Police Seize Record-Breaking $448m Worth Of Meth

Publish Date
Tuesday, 14 June 2016, 12:54PM


Northland Police have seized a record-breaking amount of methamphetamine with a street value of $448 million after the discovery of an abandoned boat on 90 Mile Beach.

A number of mesh bags were found in the boat on Sunday morning.

Police officers then began searching for a Toyota Prado and a rental campervan seen in the area.

When they found the campervan, they found it crammed with 448 kilos of the drug packed into plastic bags.

Two men, who saw the search underway and fled in the car, were arrested and taken back to Kaitaia Police Station.

A third man in the campervan was apprehended by police.

District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou said it's difficult to imagine just how big the seizure is.

"It's more than probably double three times more than anything we've seized in one lump before. This is significant, this is huge."

He said police and the community are buzzing after the seizure.

"It's the harm that this causes I think that's the biggest buzz, and it can't cause that harm because we have it."

The record breaking 448 kilos of meth outstrips the total combined amount of the drug seized in New Zealand last year.

Massey University's Dr Chris Wilkins said the bust doesn't particularly come as a surprise.

He said there was some skepticism when annual monitoring had been picking up increases.

But, he said, as large seizures are being reported it's clear they were monitoring real changes.

Police Minister Judith Collins said the bust was “wonderful”. She had been given a heads up on the operation last night.

“It was so exciting - local police working with a local community. I think it has all the hallmarks of when the Rainbow Warrior bombers were caught, it’s basically local people saying to the police, ‘oh, this looks a bit funny.’”

Ms Collins said it was “absolutely” concerning that such a large amount of drugs were in New Zealand, and in the next few days more details would emerge.

“But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was gang involvement.”

Asked if it was concerning that any boats used had not been picked up coming into New Zealand waters, Ms Collins said doing so could be difficult, particularly if boats had not been in ports here.

“I think there’s still work going on about exactly what was happening. But it’s pretty clear that there was a pickup from either a yacht or a container ship or something like that that had been organised.

“And I’m sure once the details come through we will all sit back and think, well these are significant risks but I would also say to offenders and people planning to do this - watch out, the locals are watching you, and will, thankfully, talk to police and let them know.”

Ms Collins said she did not know where the drugs may have come from. Asked if any boat could have come via the Pacific Islands, she said it “was probably further north than that”, but she was not sure of the location.

Prime Minister John Key said the police should be congratulated.

“What it shows you is the extra resources and authority that we have given them, is allowing them to be successful, because this is the second very significant haul you have seen in recent times.

“I think it also answers some of the questions of where this precursor is getting in to New Zealand, and where the police need to focus their attention.”

Mr Key said, according to limited information given to him, a boat that may have been used by the criminals did not go through Customs, but was moored offshore.

Labour leader Andrew Little said New Zealand had a meth problem, something that was well established and not helped by a lack of police resourcing.

“We are going to see more of this I suspect. We need a police force that is supported and equipped and geared up to go after that insidious drug.”

Newstalk ZB

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