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Sentencing for Operation Penny

Sentencing for Operation Penny


A 33-year-old Chinese man was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in the Auckland District Court this morning for his part in attempting to import 200 kilograms of ephedrine into New Zealand.

This amount of ephedrine had the potential to produce up to 150 kilograms of methamphetamine with the potential street value of up to $150 million.

This is the final sentence to be passed down in what was New Zealand’s largest ever seizure of this type of precursor ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine.

In April 2016, Customs targeted an airfreight consignment sent from China, and a detailed examination located 200 kilograms of ephedrine hidden in cavities within boxes of paper.

A subsequent joint investigation, code-named Operation Penny, resulted in the arrest and prosecution of four men in May 2016.

A 35–year-old New Zealand man, a 34-year-old Chinese man and a 22-year-old Malaysian have already been convicted and were sentenced to between 8 and 10 years imprisonment.

Detective Superintendent Greg Williams of the National Organised Crime Group says this is another good example of a multi-agency approach to dismantling transnational organised crime.

“The penalties passed down from the courts reflect the gravity of offending and social harm an ingredient like ephedrine causes once it is manufactured into the drug methamphetamine.

These results do not happen by chance, but come from the hard work of dedicated and skilled officers from both Customs and Police.

“The frequency and amount of seizures are an indication of the drug problem we have in New Zealand. Methamphetamine is a destructive drug that wrecks lives, breaks down whanau and negatively impacts on our community.

It takes enforcement and a whole of government approach, along with education to reduce demand and victimisation caused by this drug,” says Superintendent Williams.

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says Customs’ begins targeting shipments before they arrive at the border and, in this case, a two-pronged approach saw offenders in New Zealand as well as those involved in its export offshore caught.

“Customs’ intelligence identified this as a risk shipment, and we were ready to scrutinise it upon arrival.

It was a complex concealment and the attention to detail and our officers’ approach led to a significant seizure and prosecution.

“In addition to joining forces with Police to arrest individuals locally, both agencies also partnered with Chinese law enforcement authorities who carried out their own investigation in conjunction with our liaison officers based in China, and apprehended those at the export end to dismantle this syndicate at the source.”


- Ends-

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