Cocaine valued at $280 million seized in Tauranga

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New Zealand Customs has seized more than 700 kilograms of cocaine that was being smuggled in a shipping container. This breaks its record border seizure of 613 kilograms of methamphetamine that was intercepted in Auckland two weeks earlier.

Using intelligence and targeting indicators, Customs identified a potential risk container shipment that left South America in January 2022 and arrived in Tauranga (pictured), with Customs officers ready to inspect the consignment.

The total weight is estimated to be over 700 kilograms, with a potential street value of an estimated NZ$280 million that would have gone into the illicit market and transnational crime groups. It would have caused significant harm in our communities.

Customs Investigation Manager, Intelligence, Investigations & Enforcement Cam Moore says Customs is currently investigating this shipment alongside its national and international law enforcement partners.

“This extremely significant seizure, the second within two weeks, highlights how transnational organised crime groups are actively trying to exploit New Zealand. They are trying to smuggle drugs to New Zealand on an industrial scale because of the significant profits that can be made, they also want to use New Zealand to access other drug markets.

“We are not prepared to let that happen or to let them target those that live here. This seizure shows the successful efforts Customs and its partners are having in their shared focus to disrupt drug smuggling and protecting New Zealand’s borders,” Mr Moore says.

“Customs takes a global view, joining forces with New Zealand Police and with overseas partner agencies, as well as working closely with industry to have an enduring impact against such threats to our borders.

“We will also use the intelligence and insights we gain from this investigation to our advantage in order to continue to break these networks and make New Zealand, our border, our people and our economy stronger and safer,” he adds.

Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, National Organised Crime Group, says “this is another significant seizure and comes on the back of strong international partnerships, information sharing and diligent profiling work by Customs at the borders”.

“This would have caused a huge amount of harm in any community it was distributed into. We will work alongside Customs to establish who was responsible for bringing this drug into New Zealand and to hold them accountable”.

If you have suspicions about someone involved in illegal smuggling, call 0800 WE PROTECT (0800 937 768) or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You can also report illegal drug activity at your nearest Police station.

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