Meth hidden in swings and slides in $100m seizure but Customs 'combating the syndicates'

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Drug traffickers are going to new lengths to sneak their products into New Zealand.

It comes as seven foreign nationals were charged with importing meth hidden in swings, slides and garden lights.
Source: 1 NEWS

Seven foreign nationals were arrested yesterday, charged with importing at least 100 kilograms of methamphetamine, disguised as concrete.

Hidden among swings, slides, a furniture set and garden lights, on the streets the seized meth could sell for around $100 million to $120 million. 

"That's what the police are really up against. This is a really lucrative trade and there's obviously a substantial market here in New Zealand," said Massey University drug researcher Dr Chris Wilkins.

Dr Wilkins says the international crime networks supplying meth and its precursors are growing, with Customs now seizing imports from Asia, the Middle East and West Africa. 

And despite continued warnings of psychosis, loss of income, the break up of family life, people are still getting addicted. 

"It's a stimulant, and it really seems to suit our kind of modern, busy productive times," Dr Wilkins said.

"So people want a drug that they can use to party longer, but they also want to be productive in their working situation as well. It can also be seen as a drug that is being used in construction and also things like truck driving and hospitality trade as well." 

Importing it is a risky business and manufacturers are going to new lengths to hide their product. 

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says in the latest case "the methamphetamine powder, crystalline substance, had been mixed in with gypsum within the base and construction of the umbrella stands". 

But Customs officials are working hard to keep up.

"These syndicates are changing the way they're working all the time. And Customs and Police are finding that by changing what we do we are combating the syndicates' operations who're continually evolving," Mr Berry said. 

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