Man arrested for drug offences following cell phone search at airport

  • 11/10/2018
Cellphone search leads to drug arrest
Cellphone search leads to drug arrest Photo credit: Getty Images

A Fijian national with permanent New Zealand residency has been arrested and charged with multiple drug offences, after Customs conducted a search of his mobile phone.

Jamie Bamford from NZ Customs said the arrest was part of an investigation into multiple packages containing drugs being sent to Auckland residential addresses. The man was searched in the early hours of 1 October this year after arriving on an international flight. The search included the contents of his cellphone.

 "Customs had reasonable cause to believe the arrested man's mobile phone contained evidence relating to his offending. As a result of a search of his mobile phone, Customs located evidence connecting him to the importation of drugs," Mr Bamford said.

The man has been charged with importing one package from Cambodia which contained 1.91 kilograms of methamphetamine and two packages from Brazil which contained a total of 768 grams of cocaine.

NZ Customs have said there were other packages that had been intercepted by customs teams overseas, so more charges are likely.

The arrest follows a recent law change that allows customs to take legal action against travellers who refuse to give access to their mobile phones.

The law change was introduced to clarify confusion over the 1996 Customs and Excise Act which allows customs to inspect belongings being carried by a passenger; it didn't specifically refer to electronic devices as they weren't as common when the law was passed.

NZ Customs said in order to search someone's mobile phone a Customs officer must have a reasonable belief the device contains evidential material.


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