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$10m drugs bust at Auckland Airport

Published: 12:17PM Wednesday April 27, 2011 Source: ONE News

Ten alleged drug couriers have appeared in court after crystal methamphetamine worth up to $10 million was found in their shoes at Auckland Airport.

The group, all from the same Malaysian tour party, were caught by Customs officers yesterday around midday in what has been described as the largest number of drug couriers ever caught in a single incident in New Zealand.

Each was allegedly concealing between 800 grams and 1kg of the drug vacuum-packed in their shoes as they arrived on a flight from Malaysia, Customs said.

The group consisted of eight males and two females and they ranged in age from 21 to 68. They claimed to be waiters and builders.

The current street value of P is approximately $1million per kilogram.

Customs Drug Investigations Manager Mark Day said there were signs the group were not in the country for legitimate purposes.

"They had things like itineraries that were in English but (they) couldn't speak English... those are the sorts of things that stand out like beacons to us," he said.

Customs said concealing drugs in shoes is not uncommon, but to net 10 smugglers in one day makes this a landmark case.

The Minister of Customs Maurice Williamson also said it was a landmark interception.

"I'm very proud of the effort made by well trained officers at the border in stopping this much of such a vile drug getting into the community here," he said.

"Our diligent Customs officers have again proved, if you bring drugs into our country, you will get caught."

Day said a similar attempt had been made last year by a Taiwanese tour group "but they too were caught out by vigilant Customs officers".

The group appeared in the Manukau District Court this afternoon and police will now try and track down where the drugs were heading.