Two men are scheduled to appear in court today after allegedly attempting to smuggle 110kg of methamphetamine and two handguns into New Zealand inside golf cart batteries.
The large quantity of “ice-like” methamphetamine has a street value of about $55 million NZD and stopped an estimated $136.3 million of social harm to the country according to the NZ Drug Harm Index.
A Taiwanese national, 39, and a Chinese national, 27, were arrested by Customs investigators over the weekend and face charges for the importation and possession of a class A controlled drug.
They are due to appear in the Auckland District Court this afternoon.
Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry said it was one of the top five methamphetamine seizures he had seen.
It was a part of more than 343kg of drugs destined for New Zealand market in just over the past year that had been intercepted by Customs, he said.
Increasingly large sized seizures were becoming an international trend and New Zealand was “no stranger to this”.
“What we are seeing is organised crime expanding its markets in the wake of gluts of cocaine and methamphetamine internationally.
“Traditional borders mean nothing these days in the age of globalisation.”
Drugs were largely moving from Central and Southern America into Canada and then onto Australasia, he said.
Last month, Customs officers inspected a shipping container of three six-seater golf carts exported from the US.
According to Customs, close examination revealed the batteries hid large, ice-like methamphetamine crystals and two handguns.
Search warrants at residential addresses in West and South Auckland over the weekend led to the two arrests.
Berry said this operation was the direct result of some very good intelligence and inspections work by Customs staff.
“The presence of loaded firearms concealed with the drugs is a very real concern and shows the lengths organised crime groups are prepared to go to. It also represents a changing risk profile to both our officers and the community at large,” Berry said.
“Customs is committed to targeting and stopping smuggling attempts like this one, and the criminal syndicates responsible for trying to bring illicit drugs into our country with no concern for the devastating harm it causes.”