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