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  1. Miss Match
    The Government is giving Customs a $5.9 million boost in next week's budget to help with the war against the illicit drug trade.

    Customs Minister Maurice Williamson said the funding would allow Customs to move into the digital age with more advanced tools to detect the activities of drug criminals.

    "Tools of this kind are vital if we are to more effectively clamp down on criminal gangs and the `P' (methamphetamine) trade," Mr Williamson said.

    Mr Williamson said the budget would also provide additional operating funding of $1.2m, rising to $1.7m a year over the next four years to fight the illicit drugs trade.

    The announcement comes as the first six-monthly report on the Government's progress against methamphetamine was released today, showing more seizures at the border of pseudoephedrine which is used in manufacturing P.

    Prime Minister John Key said today initiatives launched in October last year were showing results.
    "Customs seized a record 1.2 tonnes of pseudoephedrine in 2009, and in the first three months of this year has seized 326 kilos, almost twice as much as the same period last year," he said.

    "They've also made some large border seizures of methamphetamine, including intercepting 4kg of meth in March with a street value of $4 million."

    The report shows that during October and November 2009, customs seized 230kg of pseudoephedrine, compared to 67kg over the same period in 2008.

    And since the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act came into effect in December, "police identified $36 million worth of assets they believe was obtained through criminal activity".

    Of the $36 million, $25m is from illegal drug activity including $14m from methamphetamine.
    "This early success shows the importance of countering the ability of criminals to benefit from the ill-gotten gains," Mr Key said.

    Convictions have also gone up from 2089 in 2008 to nearly 2500 in 2009.

    Mr Key also mentioned the Government's move to change pseudoephedrine to a Class B2 prescription-only drug.

    The bill has already been introduced in Parliament and if passed, the new classification could take effect on March 1, 2011.

    "The good news has to be tempered with the fact that these are early days yet," he said. "While there has been progress and areas such as border seizures, recovery of assets and the uptake of treatment places it's too early to see what impact our plan is having on supply and demand."

    NZPA | Tuesday May 11, 2010 - 08:02am



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