This from The New Zealand Herald:
Drugs and ingredients worth more than $50m seized at ports
5:00AM Friday November 09, 2007
By Juliet Rowan
Police and customs have seized more than $50 million of methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine in shipments from China, marking the biggest haul of such drugs since a record seizure in May last year.
More than 150kg of methamphetamine and Contac NT - a precursor drug for manufacturing methamphetamine - were found in shipments to the ports of Auckland and Tauranga, the Customs Service revealed last night.
"This is significant for us," investigations manager Bill Perry said. "This methamphetamine and the precursors intercepted were destined for the local market and for the local clandestine laboratories to make the drug P."
Mr Perry said China remained the main supplier of methamphetamine and methamphetamine precursors, and international crime syndicates were constantly evolving their methods of concealing the drugs.
"They're trying more and more different methods because as we get on to one, they move to a different method."
Police and customs have also stepped up their fight against imports of illegal drugs from China by each stationing a dedicated officer at the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing.
The drugs found in the recent haul - 32kg of methamphetamine and 127kg of Contac NT - were intercepted in commercial shipping consignments.
The methamphetamine, which was imported in liquid form through the Port of Tauranga, had a street value of $35 million.
The Contac NT was hidden in a stack of hollowed-out roof tiles - a method not previously detected at the Ports of Auckland.
If manufactured into P, the Contac NT would yield about 30kg of methamphetamine, Mr Perry said.
The seizures follow the country's largest haul of such drugs in May last year, when 95kg of crystal methamphetamine and 150kg of pseudoephedrine - with a combined street value of $135 million - were found concealed in shipping containers.
Those hauls also originated in China.
The two latest shipments were intercepted in late August and early September but details were not revealed until now because customs and police investigations were ongoing.
The authorities were also awaiting results from the ESR before going public about the operations.
Two people have been arrested and are before the courts, but suppression orders prevent publication of their nationalities or other identifying details. They were, however, taken into custody in New Zealand.
Suppression orders also cover some of the evidence, including the method used to conceal the liquid methamphetamine found in the Tauranga shipment.
The seizure and surveillance operations were carried out by Auckland Metro Crime and Operations Support (Amcos) police and Customs Service officers.
Mr Perry praised the vigilance of the staff. He said one million containers entered and exited New Zealand each year by sea, requiring a vast intelligence and screening process to identify suspicious freight.
X-rays capable of scanning whole containers were used but the smugglers' methods of concealment required staff to employ equipment "more and more cleverly", and also to conduct difficult searches.
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