Invercargill Prison staff have thwarted two drug smuggling attempts this week, after finding cannabis sent under the postage stamps of incoming prisoner mail.
"Our administration staff identified two letters, addressed to the same prisoner, as potentially suspicious," says prison director Daryl Tamati.
"They passed the items on for further investigation, and concealed underneath the postage stamp on each was a small amount of cannabis leaf."
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Images show the crushed flat cannabis cunningly hidden under what appears to be a "Native Bird" stamp.
"The letters and drugs have been passed on to Police for investigation. If the sender is identified they may face criminal prosecution, and could be banned from visiting the prison for up to 12 months," says Mr Tamati.
"We know that prisoners will put a huge amount of pressure on their families, friends and associates to introduce contraband for them. The consequences for doing so can be significant."
The drug finds come only a week after a detector dog team at Manawatu Prison found an incoming mail package containing chess pieces that had been packed with cannabis leaf and oil.
Managing the introduction of contraband into prisons is a constant challenge. A range of methods are used at prisons across New Zealand to prevent drugs, weapons, cellphones and other prohibited items from entering.
They include 24 detector dog teams operating across the country, x-ray technology, telephone monitoring of prisoners' calls and single points of entry to sites.
"This was great work by the team, who stopped the drugs from getting to the prisoner they were intended for," says Mr Tamati.
"Drugs can create a more dangerous working environment for our staff, and prevent prisoners from engaging in rehabilitation, education and employment opportunities."
Anyone who has been asked to bring drugs into a prison should report it to anonymous crime reporting line Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.