A teenager who tried to smuggle drug-making ingredients inside a teddy bear and a bicycle has been sentenced to more than six years in prison.
Student Zecheng Li, 19, was caught with 16.5 kilograms of ContacNT, a cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine that can be used to manufacture methamphetamine, also known as 'P', into New Zealand.
Customs said the quantity of ContacNT contained enough pseudoephedrine to manufacture between $7.4 million to $11.1 million worth of methamphetamine.
Li pleaded guilty to 18 charges of importing a Class B drug after he was caught concealing the ContacNT granules inside every-day items, including a teddy bear, a bicycle frame and within the packaging of some of the goods themselves.
He was sentenced to six years and seven months in prison.
Li's co-offender Jayden Wenski, also pleaded guilty to his involvement in some of the importations and was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in December 2012.
Customs manager of investigations, Mark Day, said the drugs were detected following the inspection of various consignments by Customs officers.
"This is a great example of the processes and intelligence we have in place to identify these packages and link them to the people involved," he said.
"Criminals are finding it harder to locally source products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine so there is an increasing tendency for them to try and source it from overseas."
Customs investigators arrested Li after courier packages from China, Hong Kong and Greece were intercepted and found to contain the ContacNT granules. Li arranged to have the packages delivered to a number of associates in the greater Auckland area.
"While the methods of smuggling drugs into the country are constantly evolving, we have the technology and capability to find them," said Day.