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$25 Million worth of drugs off the streets

26 June 2008

$25 Million worth of drugs off the streets

In the four years since New Zealand Customs Service Drug Detector dogs have been trained to detect pseudoephedrine, they have found over 100kg.
This amount of precursor would have been used to make approximately $25 million worth of crystal methamphetamine.

When the effects of methamphetamine started becoming apparent in the community, and the precursor was regularly being intercepted at the border, Customs developed a training programme to introduce the dogs to ephedrine and pseudoephedrine scents.

Dave Huff, Chief Customs Officer Detector Dog Training said “There was a massive increase in importations of Contac NT. We needed to make sure all the dogs were active in meeting this threat.”

Along with pseudoephedrine the dogs are trained to detect other illicit drugs such as cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, ecstasy and heroin.

It is fitting that this landmark amount has been reached on June 26, the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Illicit drugs represent a major problem to society. No individual, family or community is safe where illicit drugs take control.

Customs has used detector dogs since 1975. During this period the dogs have had thousands of interceptions, ranging from relatively small amounts of drugs, to multi kilo amounts, the largest in excess of 180kg.

There are nine drug detector dogs working for Customs, with another three in training. The dogs work alongside customs officers finding drugs at international airports in suitcases and on the bodies of passengers. They also search international mail, cargo, ships and small craft.

Mr Huff said “It’s a great feeling every time a dog finds drugs. We remember that all the time and effort we put into training the dogs actually does make a difference to our communities.”

Customs contributes data to the Drug Harm Index and will draw from the index to measure the effectiveness of operations and interceptions on the drug trade in New Zealand.

“The Drug Harm Index will show us not only the street value of the drugs we intercept, but also the benefits to the community in getting these drugs off the street.” Mr Huff said.


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