Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Billion dollar drug haul by Customs - TVNZ

Published: 1:41PM Wednesday August 14, 2013 Source: ONE News

Methamphetamine (Source: ONE News)

Methamphetamine - Source: ONE News

Methamphetamine and its precursor drugs worth up to $1 billion has been stopped at the New Zealand border since 2009.

Sixty-six kilograms of methamphetamine and 3.3 tonnes of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine has been intercepted through the International Mail Centre, sea cargo and air cargo shipments, and from individuals entering the country, Customs Minister Maurice Williamson said today.

The street value of the drugs is between $740 million and $1 billion while the drug harm prevented is calculated to be $410 million, Mr Williamson said.

"I applaud Customs for stopping so much of this vile drug entering the country," he said.

"Targeted operational activity has proven successful in disrupting criminal supply chains."

The Government has focussed on attacking the supply, manufacture and consumption of methamphetamine because of its prevalence in the illicit drug market, the Minister said.

In 2009, the Methamphetamine Action Plan was released with the goal of significantly reducing methamphetamine use and its associated harm.

Methamphetamine use has dropped from 2.2% in 2007/8 to 0.9% in late 2012, he said.

In 2010, he signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with China, which is the country's primary source of methamphetamine precursors.

"Both Customs administrations have worked to stem the import of precursors from China, including sharing information and intelligence.

"Close work with other customs administrations results in a better understanding of illicit drug supply and presents the opportunity to disrupt the supply chain from the export end."

Customs continues to work closely with police to identify and dismantle the New Zealand end of smuggling operations, Mr Williamson said.

The Integrated Targeting and Operations Centre also opened in 2011. It assesses threats and targets risks to the border more efficiently.

While evidence suggests the methamphetamine market is smaller now than it was a few years ago, the high price of the drug continues to make New Zealand a target for overseas drug syndicates, Mr Williamson said.

"It's imperative we remain vigilant and respond to any emerging trends," he said.

Drug harm is defined as the total social costs from harmful drug use. It includes crime, lost output, health service use and other diverted resources, such as Customs and police time.

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