Customs arrests four air passengers after 22 kg of drugs found in suitcases

Four individuals are appearing in the Manukau District Court today after Customs officers discovered a total of around 22 kg of cocaine and methamphetamine in their suitcases, in two separate incidents at Auckland Airport yesterday.

Each individual is charged with the importation and possession for supply of a class A controlled drug, which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The two separate seizures by Customs have prevented an estimated $27.1 million of potential social harm to New Zealand and our communities.

Two New Zealand nationals, a 30-year-old Hamilton man and a 20-year-old Auckland woman, arrived from Argentina on Sunday morning (5 May). A search of their baggage found around seven kg of cocaine paste in the bases of their two suitcases. This amount of cocaine would have had a street value of around $2.1 million in New Zealand.

In an unrelated incident, two Canadian nationals, a 21-year-old woman and a 26-year-old woman, arrived from Hong Kong later on Sunday morning. A search of their baggage found an estimated 14.9 kg of crystal methamphetamine in their four suitcases. This amount would have had a street value of up to $7.5 million in New Zealand.

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says Customs is making an increasing number of arrests and drug seizures at New Zealand’s international airports, and these most recent arrests serve as a further warning to drug couriers.

“Regardless of their nationalities or travel routes, Customs is working 24/7 to catch drug couriers. Individuals who attempt to smuggle illicit drugs should be prepared to face the full force of the law.

“Transnational drug cartels use different ways to try and smuggle drugs – by sea or air freight, by mail or through airports. To protect New Zealand, Customs keeps watch across our border, and uses intelligence and information to identify and respond to risk. The arrest of four drug couriers on Sunday are the latest examples of that good work,” Mr Berry says.

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