Customs are being congratulated on the high number of drug seizures at the border over the past six months, which has kept up to $246 million of methamphetamine off New Zealand’s streets.
“Customs made 1660 drug seizures between January and June 2015,” says Customs Minister Nicky Wagner.
Customs continually stop methamphetamine from crossing the border. Photo: File.
“Of these, 252 seizures were of methamphetamine or precursors, adding to more than half a ton - 510 kg - of meth-related products.
“The methamphetamine seized at the border over six months would have a street value of up to $141 million. The 369 kg of precursors seized could have produced another $105 million of methamphetamine.”
Nicky says intercepting drugs at the border is vital and customs will continue to work in partnership with police to identify and take down criminal operations.
“We are also working closely with international agencies to stop drugs before they are exported,” adds Nicky.
“Drug concealments are sophisticated and constantly changing, but we are holding ground with street prices of methamphetamine remaining stable since 2011.
“Thanks to the dedication and skill of our customs officers as well as the action of law enforcement agencies here and overseas, this significant amount of harmful drugs has been kept off our streets.”
The remaining 1408 seizures consisted of smaller quantities of a range of drugs including class C analogues, cannabis, ecstasy and controlled and prescription medicines that were found mainly through mail or air cargo.
Customs Manager Border Operations Shane Panettiere says some of customs’ seizures reached record levels last summer.
This year, customs has already seized almost double that amount of methamphetamine, and precursors are continuing to pour in at a steady rate.
“It’s not uncommon for customs to intercept several kilograms of methamphetamine or precursors in each seizure, sometimes on a daily basis,” explains Shane.
“A major shift in precursors over the last 18 months is the import of ephedrine instead of pseudoephedrine.
“Criminals keep trying inventive ways to smuggle drugs, but customs also continually updates its targeting and examination techniques to keep up with the changing environment.”
Customs Manager Investigations Maurice O’Brien says customs have made numerous arrests relating to drug importation offences in the first six months of the year.
“Customs is actively working with local and international agencies to target and stop drugs, disrupt and dismantle the international supply chains, and identify and pursue all those involved - wherever they may be,” says Maurice.
“An example of this is that in addition to local border seizures, Hong Kong customs has also seized about 7.5 kg of methamphetamine destined for New Zealand.
“This shows how closely we’re working to target the drugs trade between both countries, and we’ll continue to do so.”