Fourth man jailed over biggest ever seizure of meth precursor ephedrine in NZ

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A fourth man has been jailed today for his part in attempting to import what was New Zealand's largest ever seizure of ephedrine, a precursor ingredient used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Ephedrine found by Customs in boxes of paper

Ephedrine found by Customs in boxes of paper

Source: Supplied

A 33-year-old Chinese man was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment in the Auckland District Court this morning for his part in attempting to import 200 kilograms of ephedrine into New Zealand. 

In April 2016, Customs targeted an airfreight consignment sent from China, and a detailed examination located 200 kilograms of ephedrine hidden in cavities within boxes of paper.

A subsequent joint investigation by Police and Customs, code-named Operation Penny, resulted in the arrest and prosecution of four men in May 2016.

A 35-year-old New Zealand man, a 34-year-old Chinese man and a 22-year-old Malaysian have already been convicted and were sentenced to between eight and 10 years imprisonment.

Police say today's sentencing of the 33-year-old is the final sentence to be passed down in the case.

Detective Superintendent Greg Williams of the National Organised Crime Group says the frequency and amount of seizures are an indication of the drug problem we have in New Zealand.  

"Methamphetamine is a destructive drug that wrecks lives, breaks down whanau and negatively impacts on our community," he said.  

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says Customs' intelligence identified this as a risk shipment, and officers were ready to scrutinise it upon arrival. 

He says in addition to joining forces with Police to arrest individuals locally, both agencies also partnered with Chinese law enforcement authorities.

They carried out their own investigation in conjunction with New Zealand Customs liaison officers based in China, and apprehended those at the export end to dismantle the syndicate at the source.

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