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Tonne of drugs kept off our streets

04.04pm 08 March 2018 | News

Customs seized over 320 kg methamphetamine, 577 kg of its precursors, and 55 kg of cocaine at our border in 2017, preventing at least $1 BN of potential harm to our communities.

With 416 seizures of meth and its precursor ephedrine making up the bulk volume (897 kg), the 3173 interceptions totalled over 1.2 tonnes, almost 96 litres, and over 238,000 items such as tabs and pills. Cocaine, MDMA, LSD, cannabis, Class C analogues, psychoactive substances, and controlled or prescription medicines were also common on the hit list.

This tally does not include some major cases such as 160 litres of t-boc methamphetamine intercepted in Auckland last March, and 46 kg cocaine seized in Tauranga last November under joint operations with New Zealand Police.

Group Manager Intelligence, Investigations and Enforcement Jamie Bamford says every seizure counts and indicates that Customs' strategies are having an impact.

"Methamphetamine and its precursors are still the main drug of choice and issue. But as predicted a couple of years ago, we're also seeing significant increases in both cocaine and MDMA as overseas drug syndicates try to broaden their market-base here for profit.

"Customs has a unique role at the border – we work hard to assist legitimate trade and travel and, at the same time, identify and stop drug smugglers trying to conceal their operations within the vast volumes. This means we are also constantly working smarter.

"We have a successful strategy built on intelligence and partnerships. Every person, cargo and vessel is screened behind-the-scenes to flag potential risks. Our intelligence and targeting work is responsible for the majority of our seizure successes.

"Customs also works closely with Police and other local partners, and does a lot of work internationally through our law enforcement networks and overseas-based liaison officers to disrupt those drug smuggling networks targeting New Zealand as early as possible.

"Prevention is our main aim – we don't want methamphetamine and other illicit drugs in New Zealand or overseas criminal syndicates setting up here," Mr Bamford says.

The potential harm prevented is calculated based on the NZ Drug Harm Index 2016.