Three foreign nationals have been arrested allegedly trying to smuggle 12 kilograms of ecstasy, with an estimated street value of up to $5 million, into New Zealand at Auckland Airport, hidden in false bottom suitcases.
Customs says the three 24-year-olds were arrested on arrival from Singapore last week after x-rays led to the discovery of MDMA or ecstasy crystals hidden in the suitcases.
False bottoms in suitcase reveal 12kg of MDMA at Auckland Airport.
Customs says peak passenger volumes during the holidays has not stopped officers from catching drug couriers.
Customs Investigations Manager Maurice O’Brien says criminal syndicates may think a busy season is an ideal time for drug couriers to hide amongst the crowds, but Customs carries out profiling using data and technology to identify high-risk passengers.
"This is supported by frontline capabilities as part of a layered approach," Mr O'Brien said.
"In this case, cooperation with our partner agency Ministry for Primary Industries resulted in the seizure and arrests, re-enforcing the effectiveness of our collaborative approach," he said.
Meth is still the main choice for drug couriers and like meth, New Zealand’s price for MDMA is amongst the highest in the world making us an attractive market for criminals, Mr O'Brien said.
"Whatever the drug, Customs is committed to preventing it from getting onto our streets."
The three men are scheduled to reappear in the Manukau District Court on January 27 charged with importing a class B drug.
They face a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.