WELLINGTON: There are fears New Zealand’s cocaine problem is getting worse, as seizures of the Class A drug continue to rise.
Earlier in November at least 46kg of cocaine was seized from a hidden compartment on a ship from Chile to New Zealand. Customs group manager Jamie Bamford told Newshub there has been “quite a significant increase” in cocaine smuggling over the last three years.
“The organised crime groups and cartels are basically trying to create a cocaine market within New Zealand. New Zealand’s a bit of an outlier in that we haven’t really got a large cocaine market historically,” he says.
“They’re pushing larger quantities into New Zealand to be distributed by the gangs, to create an appetite and create a market here.”
While larger quantities primarily come out of South America, there has been an increase in smaller packages of one or two grams being smuggled from Europe and North America, likely organised through the Dark Web. Mr Bamford expressed a concern that cocaine prices might drop in order to increase demand.
“We always remain vigilant as to pricing and supply and demand, so we’re concerned obviously by the increases in cocaine being seized.”
He says he wouldn’t be surprised if Customs seizes more cocaine in the near future, and that they have a “range of tools at our disposal” to prevent the drug from entering the country.