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Operation Lithium sees drugs seized and three arrested

02.59pm 09 June 2022 | News

Three people have been arrested as Police and Customs disrupt plans to import a large shipment of methamphetamine into New Zealand as part of Operation Lithium.

Issued by Police Media Centre

A container filled with pails of grease was searched by Customs and found to contain methamphetamine originating out of Iran.

The total weight of the drug is yet to be determined, however it is expected to be a commercial quantity based on the concealment method.

Operation Lithium is a combined NZ Police National Organised Crime Group (NOCG) and Customs investigation looking into the importation of a significant quantity of methamphetamine into the country.

Customs seized the shipment of Methamphetamine on 10 May 2022 at the Port of Tauranga. 

Further investigation into this shipment resulted in the arrest of three Auckland men, aged between 21 and 42 years, yesterday. 

All three men have been charged with importing the methamphetamine and the 21-year-old man has also been charged with Threatening to Kill.

They are appearing in the Auckland District Court today.

National Organised Crime Group Detective Senior Sergeant Reece Sirl says methamphetamine devastates many vulnerable communities while organised criminal groups continue to profit off this type of offending.

“This seizure at the border is another demonstration of the Police and Customs working together to disrupt and dismantle organised crime networks and to make New Zealand more resilient to transnational organised crime,” he says.

Cam Moore, Customs Manager Investigations, says “Criminal gangs think they are untouchable, but this operation proves them wrong. We have stopped their drugs from reaching the New Zealand market, where it could have had a significant economic and human toll. Customs, Police and our overseas partners have the intelligence, capability and tools to dismantle these criminal networks – and every determination to continue doing so.”

Police cannot rule out further arrests as the investigation is ongoing.

As the matter is now before the Court, Police are unable to comment further.