Authorities seize 700kg of drugs in 'record-breaking' New Zealand cocaine bust

The seized packages of cocaine.
The seized packages of cocaine. Photo credit: New Zealand Customs Service

The largest ever attempted smuggling of cocaine into New Zealand has been seized at the border in a joint police/Customs operation.

A shipment of about $280 million worth of the drug - more than 700kg - was found in a shipping container that arrived in Tauranga from South America in January, Customs said in a statement on Wednesday.

An investigation is now underway. Det Supt Greg Williams, of the police national organised crime group, said it was another significant seizure.

The seizure came after 613kg of methamphetamine was intercepted in Auckland just a fortnight prior

"This would have caused a huge amount of harm in any community it was distributed into," Williams said.

"We will work alongside Customs to establish who was responsible for bringing this drug into New Zealand and to hold them accountable."

The seizure highlighted how organised crime groups were trying to utilise New Zealand, Customs intelligence, investigations and enforcement investigation manager Cam Moore said.

He said organised crime groups were trying to smuggle drugs into New Zealand on an "industrial scale" due to the significant profits that can be made.

Both Customs and its partners weren't prepared to let that happen, Moore said.

"This seizure shows the successful efforts Customs and its partners are having in their shared focus to disrupt drug smuggling and protect New Zealand's borders."