Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Drug haul enters NZ hidden in threshers

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Methamphetamine valued at more than $70m seized and men arrested after raid on rural property.
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A Methamphetamine haul valued at more than $70 million has been seized after entering New Zealand hidden in agricultural machinery.

Six men have been arrested and charged as a result of the joint Police and Customs investigation.

The stash of just under 200kg of methamphetamine, enough for roughly 10 million doses, was seized by the New Zealand Customs Service at the Port of Auckland after it was found concealed in four wheat thresher machines imported into the country.

The origin of the threshers is still under investigation, but inquiries to date have determined they were transshipped to NZ from Dubai.

Detective Inspector Tom Gollan, from the Police’s National Organised Crime Group, said it was a sophisticated concealment method.

“This highlights the extreme lengths criminal enterprises will go to to avoid detection.

“Police believe this haul of methamphetamine was destined for the New Zealand market and if it had not been intercepted it would have resulted in more than $200m  worth of social harm caused across a lot of very vulnerable communities.”

As part of the investigation, under Operation Brewer, the thresher machines were delivered to a rural property in Patumahoe on July 4, and a search warrant subsequently executed by Police and Customs at the address.

“Four men, aged between 18 and 28, were taken into custody at the property,” Gollan said.

“The group were arrested as they were dismantling the threshing machines to access the methamphetamine.”

A series of five further search warrants were executed across Tāmaki Makaurau in the following days, and another two men, aged 27 and 36, were arrested.

All six men have appeared in the Auckland District Court and are facing charges relating to the importation and possession for supply of methamphetamine, and participating in an organised crime group.

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