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Largest drug bust in NZ history

Published: 3:09PM Thursday May 25, 2006 Source: RNZ/One News

Auckland police have seized $135 million worth of illicit drugs in what they say is the largest bust in New Zealand's history.

They say 95 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine (ice or P) with a street value of $95 million, and 150 kilograms of pseudoephedrine was found concealed among bags of plaster in shipping containers.

Police say the drugs were seized in two shipments over the past fortnight from an Auckland address.

Police say they were destined for New Zealand's illicit drug market and the seizure will disrupt a major international drug network. They say the bust illustrates how influential transnational crime groups have become in New Zealand's drug market.

The previous biggest haul of crystal methamphetamine was earlier this year when police seized eight kilograms.

"It is a new dimension in the New Zealand drug scene because up to this time most drugs of this major amount would be in transit to an offshore country.  That's not the case here, we're quite clear that these drugs were intended for distribution in the New Zealand market place," Simon Williamson of Customs says.

After the drugs were found a house in Kohimarama was searched and police say they found $60,000 in cash, two money counting machines, loaded firearms and false passports.
Six people have been charged - two are New Zealand residents, one is from Hong Kong and the other three are from China.

They appeared in the Auckland District Court on Thursday and have been remanded in custody.

Police say further arrests are possible. Several other people have been named on the charge sheets, although they may be overseas now.

They say the bust is likely to put a dent in the local drug supply.

"This will have an impact on the local market, for how long we don't know," Detective Inspector Bruce Good says.

There is still a long way to go in the investigation, as police and Customs are checking if other shipments have made it into New Zealand.