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Ecstasy Seizures Reach Record Levels

The New Zealand Customs Service has in the last six weeks, seized more than 9,000 Ecstasy tablets, almost surpassing the entire amount seized at the border, over the past three years .

On 17 April 1999 Customs Officers intercepted a UK national at the Auckland International Airport with 1,898 tabs of the Class B controlled drug MDMA. He had travelled from Amsterdam to NZ via Malaysia. The Ecstasy tabs which were predominantly yellow in colour (but there were also smaller quantities of white, green, pink and blue tablets) had been concealed within sealed plastic vitamin tablet bottles.

In May 1999 the UK national was sentenced in the Auckland High Court to three years imprisonment.

On 22 April 1999 a Swiss national was intercepted at the Auckland International Airport with 3,708 tabs of the Class B controlled drug MDMA. He had travelled from Thailand to NZ via Indonesia. The Ecstasy tabs which were pink in colour had been concealed within the retractable handle cavity of his suitcase. During May 1999 the Swiss national was sentenced in the Auckland High Court to five years imprisonment.

On 2 June 1999 a dual NZ/Canadian national was intercepted at the Auckland International Airport with 783 tabs of the Class A controlled drug MDA (which were blue in colour) and 51 tabs of the Class B controlled drug MDMA (which were white in colour).

He also had 91 tabs of the Class B controlled drug Oxycodone (a pain killer). He had travelled from Canada to NZ via Japan. The Ecstasy tabs had been concealed within his body and were retrieved after they had passed through his system. On 11 June he pleaded guilty in the Otahuhu District Court and has been remanded in custody for sentencing in the Auckland High Court on 30 June 1999.

On 12 June 1999 Customs Officers intercepted a courier parcel that had arrived in NZ from South Africa. Concealed within sealed plastic vitamin tablet bottles were 2,563 tabs of the Class A controlled drug MDA (which were blue in colour) and a quantity of the Class A controlled drug Cocaine, which was contained within gelatine capsules.

A joint Police/Customs controlled delivery was undertaken of the courier parcel in Wellington on 15 June 1999, resulting in the arrest of two South Africans and two New Zealand males. This matter remains before the Court.

ECSTASY is in fact a "street name". It is normally taken to mean the Class B controlled drug 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), but can also be the Class A controlled drug methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA) or the Class C controlled drug methylenedioxyethylamphetamine (MDEA).

Customs National Drug Investigations Manager, Phil Chitty says the size of these recent seizures indicates that the demand for this drug in New Zealand must be enormous. It is no longer a simple little white pill, it can be any colour, and it is coming from everywhere.

"The variety of colours, the "mixture" of both MDA and MDMA, the volume seized, and the fact the Ecstasy tablets were sourced in four different countries, indeed four different continents, are of concerning interest to Customs," said Mr Chitty.

ENDS....

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