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Record-breaking cocaine seizure in banana shipment

12.00pm 16 November 2018 | News

New Zealand’s largest cocaine seizure, approximately 190 kgs of cocaine located in a container of bananas, has resulted in a 41-year-old being arrested in Australia.

A joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) – Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) investigation into an Australian-based organised crime group identified a potential shipment of illicit drugs that left Balboa, Panama, on 4 August 2018. On Monday 20 August 2018, a container listed as a shipment of bananas arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, on a vessel from Balboa, Panama.

New Zealand Customs and Police inspected the container and found five duffel bags on top of the banana boxes, which contained 190 blocks of cocaine each weighing around a kilogram that had been wrapped in packaging tape.

New Zealand Police and Customs continued to work through our international liaison network to assist the AFP-ACIC investigation.

The joint investigation concluded in the last 24 hours with an arrest made in Sydney.
Detective Inspector Paul Newman, National Organised Crime Group, says this seizure is extremely significant for both countries.

“This operation has once again shown our dedication to disrupting organised crime and reducing the devastating harm that drugs cause in our community.”

Detective Inspector Newman says both countries are recognised as lucrative markets for the illicit drug trade, which is why we work closely together and share intelligence.

“The cooperation of both law enforcement and intelligence groups during this investigation has been central to its success in targeting transnational crime.”

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says the seizure and arrests highlight the strong partnership between Australian and New Zealand law enforcement agencies, and their shared focus on disrupting drug smuggling and protecting each other’s borders.

“This joint trans-Tasman approach is an important part of Customs’ strategy to keep harm offshore, and shows how New Zealand is playing its part internationally through the use of our intelligence and targeting to successfully identify risk.”

Anyone who wants to report illegal drug activity can contact their nearest Police station or you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.