Police arrest 60 year old Auckland man over 1080 threat
Oct. 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand Police have arrested a 60-year-old Auckland businessman in relation to the criminal blackmail threat to poison infant formula with 1080, made public in March this year.
The man is appearing in the Counties Manukau District Court this afternoon on two charges of criminal blackmail, relating to threat letters sent to dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group and Federated Farmers in November last year. Blackmail is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
The arrest follows the execution of five search warrants in Auckland and the Rangitikei district this morning.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush said today’s arrest follows a long and complex 11-month investigation, that has cost over $3 million and involved a 35-strong investigation team.
“This investigation is one of the biggest undertaken by police in recent times and reflects how seriously we view this kind of crime,” he said.
The Operation Conchord team had used a range of forensic techniques in gathering evidence, some that were innovative and could be used in future investigations, he said.
It’s believed the arrested man was acting alone and no further arrests are expected though Bush said he couldn’t comment on his motivations for the threatened blackmail.
More than 2,600 people were considered by the investigation team over the course of the enquiry.
Ministry for Primary Industries chief executive Martyn Dunne said the safety of consumers was paramount during the investigation.
“Mums and dads should be confident that infant formula is a safe today as it has always been,” he said.
Dunne said 150,000 batches of a range of infant formula products and been tested under a new regime introduced after the threat. The new tests will remain in place as part of manufacturers’ safety regime.
There had been no drop off in trade because New Zealand had reassured international trading partners that New Zealand products and systems were safe, he said.