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Three ‘tourists’ arrested for $5M MDMA in suitcases

03.53pm 13 January 2017 | News

Peak passenger volumes during the holidays has not stopped Customs officers from catching drug couriers, with three arrests marking the start of 2017.

Three foreign nationals, all 24-years-old, were arrested at Auckland Airport on arrival from Singapore last week after x-rays led to the discovery of MDMA or ecstasy crystals hidden in false bottom suitcases. The 12 kgs total has an estimated street value of up to $5 million.

Customs Investigations Manager Maurice O’Brien says criminal syndicates may think a busy season is an ideal time for drug couriers to hide amongst the crowds, but Customs’ carries out profiling using data and technology to identify high-risk passengers. This is supported by frontline capabilities as part of a layered approach.

“In this case, cooperation with our partner agency Ministry for Primary Industries resulted in the seizure and arrests, re-enforcing the effectiveness of our collaborative approach.

“Meth is still the main choice for drug couriers and like meth, New Zealand’s price for MDMA is amongst the highest in the world making us an attractive market for criminals. Whatever the drug, Customs is committed to preventing it from getting onto our streets.”

The three men are scheduled to reappear in the Manukau District Court on 27 January for importing a class B drug. They face a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.