News of Zealand

The Sinaloa Cartel Just Tried To Smuggle 110kg of Meth Into NZ, Experts Say

Hidden in golf cart batteries, the haul found by Customs could be worth around NZ$17 million.

by Zoe Madden-Smith
05 March 2019, 9:29pm

El Chapo.

This article originally appeared on VICE NZ.

The Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world’s most powerful organised crime groups, is said to be behind the latest major drug bust at the New Zealand border, Newshub reports. Yes, the Mexican gang famously led by drug lord El Chapo before he was arrested and found guilty of trafficking last month, has its eyes on little New Zealand.

It is believed the group is targeting New Zealand because like all things in this expensive country, Kiwis will pay top dollar for hard drugs. National Drug Intelligence bureau manager John O'Keefe said a kilo of methamphetamine in the US went for around US$5000. But a kilo in New Zealand could pocket $160,000.

The cartel hid 110 kilograms of “large, ice-like methamphetamine crystals” and handguns inside golf cart batteries. Scott Stewart from US intelligence group Stratfor, who has investigated Mexican crime groups for 14 years, told Newshub the "size and clarity of the methamphetamine crystals" bear the hallmarks of drugs made in a Mexican superlab.

He said the creative smuggling techniques were also "consistent with what you'd expect from the Sinaloa Cartel". "They frequently use batteries in getting liquid methamphetamine across the US border," he said.

"Most likely [the drugs are from] Sinaloa, just because of that global reach and because of their history of operations in Asia," he said. "They have the reach, they have the power, they have those connections that have been long established."

The Mexican Navy found 50 tonnes of meth in an underground lab linked to El Chapo's cartel in August last year. The bust was one of the country's biggest in history, with the stash said to worth NZ$7.5 billion. "Some of those labs are making 100 kilos, 200 kilos a day on a 24-hour shift," said O'Keefe.

Intelligence documents obtained by Newshub confirmed meth made by Mexican cartels was the biggest problem for our law enforcement agencies right now. Mexican cartels were also linked to large shipments of cocaine, including a 190-kilogram haul hidden in banana boxes.