US woman caught at Christchurch Airport with puffer jackets 'packed with cocaine'

A US woman has appeared in a Christchurch court after she was allegedly caught entering New Zealand with puffer jackets "packed with cocaine".

The 43-year-old was arrested at Christchurch Airport on Monday after an inspection of her baggage revealed 2.5kg of cocaine had been hidden in the lining of five puffer jackets. Customs says this had a potential street value of up to $875,000.

The puffer jackets.
The puffer jackets. Photo credit: NZ Customs / Supplied

"Drug seizures like this one are infrequent in Christchurch. This latest seizure is the result of excellent intelligence work and the professionalism of our frontline Customs officers at the airport. We are pleased to have stopped this cocaine from reaching the streets of our second largest city," says Customs' Southern Ports manager Joe Cannon.

"Demand for cocaine in New Zealand remains high, and organised crime groups see New Zealand as a lucrative market for their illegal activities.

"Customs officers across the country are focused on protecting New Zealand and making us safer and more secure by reducing the risks associated with international trade and travel, such as illicit drugs."

The cocaine packages inside the jackets.
The cocaine packages inside the jackets. Photo credit: NZ Customs / Supplied

The woman has appeared in the Christchurch District Court today charged with importation and possession of a Class A controlled drug.

If you have suspicions about someone being involved in illegal drug smuggling, call 0800 4 CUSTOMS (0800 428 786) in confidence, or Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously.