American 'drug courier' appears in court after up to $1.3m of cocaine allegedly found hidden in suitcase at Auckland Airport

An American national has appeared in an Auckland court today on drug charges after arriving on a flight from Thailand allegedly with up to $1.3 million worth of cocaine hidden in his suitcase.

Customs says the 46-year-old arrived at Auckland Airport on a flight from Thailand last night.

He was arrested after a detailed examination of his baggage led to the discovery of around three kilograms of cocaine hidden in a false bottom suitcase, Customs said in a statement this afternoon.

The cocaine has an estimated street value of between $874,000 and $1.3 million.

The man appeared in the Manukau District Court today charged with importing and possession for supply of a class A drug.

He faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Customs' acting manager investigations, Michael Blades, says the arrest is a testament to the work of customs officers and pre-screening that includes the use of technology and passenger information to identify high-risk passengers. 

"In this instance, we received good intelligence that assisted our frontline customs officers to successfully identify the passenger as a drug courier," Mr Blades said.

"Cocaine causes serious effects including anxiety, paranoia and depression and while this seizure suggests there is a market for cocaine, Customs is committed to preventing it and any other drugs from getting past our border and onto our streets," he said.

A bag of cocaine

Five-car nose-to-tail crash causes gridlock on major Auckland motorway (picture inside)

Police and the fire service are attending a five-car nose-to-tail crash on Auckland's Southwestern Motorway, State Highway 20.

The crash is blocking the right lane on motorway northbound just prior to Massey Rd.

Police say St John ambulance have transported four people to hospital - two people in a moderate condition and two with minor injuries.

NZTA is advising drivers to expect major delays in the area.

Five car crash on south-western motorway
Five car crash on south-western motorway Source: NZTA


Three injured, one critically, in two-vehicle crash south of Auckland

Three people have been injured, one of them critically, in a two-vehicle crash at Waiuku just south of Auckland.

Police and a rescue helicopter are attending the crash on Awhitu Road.

A section of Awhitu road is blocked and diversions are in place at the intersections of Taurangaruru Road and Kaihau Road.

Motorists in the Waiuku township area are being advised to delay their travel if possible due to the cordons in place and avoid the area if possible.

The Serious Crash Unit has been notified.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS