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Customs seizes cocaine at Auckland Airport

28 November, 2006

Customs seizes cocaine at Auckland International Airport

Customs officers at Auckland International Airport have intercepted approximately 3.5 kilograms of cocaine, on its way to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

A 46-year-old Australian national was selected for search after Customs officers became suspicious of his travel. He arrived in Auckland from Sao Paulo, South America. The cocaine was hidden in the linings of two suitcases that had been purpose-built to ensure the concealed drugs were difficult to detect.

Bill Perry, Customs Manager Investigations, says: "This is a good example of Customs officers using their skills and training to detect things that are out of the ordinary. At this time, the ultimate destination of the drugs remains unknown, but we strongly suspected that they were destined for the Australian market.

"Although we don't know the purity of the cocaine at this stage, its potential street value based on previous evidence may be up to $5.6 million."

The arrested person appeared in the Manukau District Court today and has been charged with the importation of a class A controlled drug (cocaine) and has been remanded in custody until late January 2007.

No further details can be provided at this stage as the matter is before the Courts.

-ends-

New Zealand Customs Service is the Government organisation that protects the community from potential risks arising from international trade and travel, while facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods across the border.

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As New Zealand's gatekeepers our role includes intercepting contraband (such as illegal drugs); checking travellers and their baggage cargo and mail; protecting businesses against illegal trade; and assessing and collecting Customs duties, excise taxes and Goods and Services Tax on imports. We use intelligence and risk assessment to target physical checks of containers, vessels or travellers. As a law enforcement agency we conduct investigations and audits, and prosecute offenders.

Customs works closely with the other border agencies, the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry Quarantine Service and the Department of Labour's immigration staff.

ENDS


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