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Customs Border Precursor Seizures Continue

06 April 2005

Customs Border Precursor Seizures Continue

Customs officers are continuing to make large interceptions of precursor substances at New Zealand's border, believed destined for methamphetamine production.

The latest seizure occurred in Auckland on Friday 1 April, when Customs officers operating at a fast-freight depot discovered 20,000 Contac NT capsules concealed within various items in five cartons. The cartons were being sent to separate Auckland addresses, but were all believed to be linked with each other.

A controlled delivery operation code-named Operation Batman, run in conjunction with Police Drug Squad detectives, successfully led to an arrest by Police on Monday 4 April. The offender was identified as a foreign student national on a temporary short-stay visitor visa.

A further carton containing approximately 5,000 Contac NT capsules was recovered during a search warrant executed by Police and Customs drug investigators at the conclusion of the controlled delivery operation.

The offender, a 27 year-old male, has been charged with importing a Class C controlled drug into New Zealand. The charge carries a maximum sentence of eight years imprisonment.

"Customs believes the trade was well organised with organised crime factions involved at both ends of the supply chain," says Customs Drug Investigations Manager, Simon Williamson. "We believe they were capitalising on the high price being paid in New Zealand by methamphetamine producers for these precursors, currently more than $2 per capsule."

"A high proportion of the precursors intercepted are sourced from China, one of the world's largest producers of medications containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine," says Mr Williamson.

As at 31 March, for the 2005 calendar year, Customs has seized over 230,000 precursor tablets at New Zealand's border in 119 cases, compared to 1.8 million tablets in 525 cases for the 2004 calendar year.

Two of the most common precursors being encountered at the border are pseudoephedrine and ephedrine cold remedies. These were both made Class C controlled drugs in New Zealand in mid October last year.


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