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Government move to increase Customs resourcing

Record precursor seizures reinforces government move to increase Customs resourcing

The New Zealand Customs Service has seized a record amount of unlicensed precursor substances this year and increased resourcing of the service is also expected to yield further interceptions, Customs Minister Rick Barker said today.

“As at 23 September this year, Customs had seized 623,000 ephedrine and pseudoephedrine tablets or powered equivalent believed destined for methamphetamine production in New Zealand.

“This figure already represents a 300 percent increase in seizures from last year. In 2001, 32,653 tablets were intercepted, compared with 254,987 tablets last year.”

Customs believes seizures of these precursors, key ingredients in the production of methamphetamine, will top one million tablets by the end of this calendar year.

Although Customs can only estimate how much of these substances are not intercepted, Mr Barker said the steady rise in seizures demonstrated how important it was for the government to increase border drug controls.

“Figures in the media recently of four million precursor tablets slipping past the border were based on historic estimates which suggested that Customs may be seizing about 20 percent of unlicensed shipments.

“If we say we’re on track to seize 1 million tablets by the end of the year, the media have expanded that to suggest four million tablets are making it through. The reality is that no one really knows how many precursors are getting through.

“However, what we do know is that Customs is intercepting more precursors than ever before and this government is committing more resources than ever before to ensure that the scourge of methamphetamine is answered.

The government’s Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy has also taken other significant steps to meet the methamphetamine problem head on.

“Methamphetamine is now a Class A drug, pseudoephedrine and ephedrine will soon be classified as Class C drugs and Cabinet has just approved lowering the presumption of supply for methamphetamine from 56 grams to 5 grams. This government is not soft on drugs,” Mr Barker said.

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