TODAY |

Drug seizures at the border reach record high

Customs officers have seen it all this year, from meth smuggled inside golf carts, to hundreds of kilograms stashed inside gutted vehicle motors.

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Methamphetamine busts have been a standout, with more than a tonne intercepted this year. Source: 1 NEWS

Despite the new ways drug syndicates are operating, Customs have managed to hit a record year in drug busts.

Intelligence Manager, Jamie Bamford says it this year's meth seizure alone is almost three times the previous record year in 2017.

"We've seized more meth than we've ever seized before, over one tonne. We've also seized more MDMA and ecstasy and that's a huge spike."

This year's total brings the number of border busts to more than 2,000.

Mr Bamford's likened the work to a game of cat and mouse.

"One minute we might see lots of drugs coming through the air streams, then through air passengers who are bringing it with them. We have to be pretty agile and flexible and adapt because it's constantly changing."

One Customs officer, who 1 NEWS cannot name for privacy reasons, has been involved in some of the biggest busts this year.

Although she has a keen eye for suspicious packages, some items containing drugs still surprise her.

"One of my colleagues had it disguised as a Christmas present so Christmas presents aren't exempt from being searched, they'll use any opportunity to any excuse, any holiday to try and get it through. "

Customs measures its success against drug residues found in the country's waste water - that indicates just how much meth is being consumed by New Zealanders.

It's currently recorded between 15-16 kilograms per week. But Jamie says the work done by Customs is helping bring those consumption levels down.

"We're seizing around 30-40 kilograms per week."