Crystal meth found inside bottles of maple syrup from Canada. Photo: New Zealand Police.
Police in New Zealand have seized a record shipment of crystal meth hidden in jugs of maple syrup from Canada. The 713kg bust, discovered being smuggled in ship freight, is part of a wave of big seizures of meth and cocaine bound for New Zealand over the last year. The country has for decades been a big per capita user of meth. And despite being the most expensive to buy in the world, cocaine is on the rise across Australia and New Zealand.
The investigation that led to the meth seizure was sparked when Canadian authorities found three tonnes of meth inside bottles of canola oil destined for Australia from Canada, believed to be carried out by the same trafficking gang based in Melbourne. In February police found 3.5 tonnes of cocaine floating in the Pacific Ocean six days sailing time from New Zealand tied to buoys. Investigators believed it had been bound for Australia’s market, where it was enough for a year’s supply. Last March border officials seized 613kg of methamphetamine at Auckland Airport and 700kg of cocaine in a shipping container at the Port of Tauranga, also on the country’s north island.
“We’ve seen a surge coming down this way,” Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, who directs New Zealand’s National Organised Crime Group, told the New Zealand Herald newspaper. He said criminal gangs were “really targeting” the country. “It’s kind of sad in some ways that we keep coming and saying we’re getting bigger and bigger seizures.”Police originally discovered the maple syrup shipment in January, after which they arrested six people aged between 22 and 45 in north Auckland. The authorities had to wait until a further series of arrests were carried out in Melbourne to announce the record bust on Thursday.