$63 million of cocaine seized at Auckland port, deportees arrested

  • 27/10/2023
$63 million of cocaine seized at Auckland port, deportees arrested

Four men - including three deportees - have been arrested after $63 million of cocaine was seized at New Zealand's border on Thursday.

Police said 140kg of the drug was found concealed within a cavity of a container at the Port of Auckland. It's believed to have originated in Ecuador and travelled through Panama to New Zealand.

Detective Inspector Tom Gollan from Police's National Organised Crime Group said four men were arrested in Tāmaki Makaurau on Thursday as a result.

"Three of the men were deported back to New Zealand in July and August 2023, and a fourth man is an Australian National who recently entered New Zealand as a visitor."

Also found during the investigation was a surveillance drone, newly-purchased angle grinders, equipment to recover the drugs and a firearm.

"What was particularly chilling is the discovery of a pistol with a silencer attached, and ammunition, which was found in possession of one of these men," said Det Insp Gollan.

"This investigation highlights the extreme lengths this organised criminal enterprise went to to try and avoid detection."

Acting Customs investigations manager Simon Peterson said the seizure shows the "constant threat" New Zealand faces from "well-funded, sophisticated and determined transnational organised crime groups".

"The success in bringing down this smuggling attempt also shows Customs' commitment and determination, working alongside our police partners and offshore and industry partners, to disrupt this predatory criminal activity, hit the profits these gangs aim to make from exploiting our communities and play our part in reducing the wide-ranging social harm drugs they cause in our communities."

All four men have appeared in the Auckland District Court facing charges relating to the importation of cocaine, firearm offences and participating in an organised crime group.