A joint police and Customs sting caught 160 liters of methamphetamine as it entered New Zealand, labeled as dishwashing liquid.
Four men, aged 38, 47, 54 and 59, will appear in the Auckland District Court on Wednesday, charged with a range of offences related to the supply of methamphetamine and the possession of equipment with intent to manufacture a controlled drug.
It is alleged that a cargo consignment, containing an estimated 160 liters of t-boc methamphetamine, was imported from Hong Kong on January 28.
T-boc methamphetamine is chemically masked to prevent it being detected.
Detective Superintendent Dave Lynch said it was believed to be the first time that this form of methamphetamine has been seized in New Zealand.
“What’s unique about it is that when it arrives in New Zealand, it isn’t actually methamphetamine, so at that point it’s not actually a controlled substance.”
The liquid and equipment seized in the operation are believed to have the capability to convert the t-boc methamphetamine into approximately 120 kg of methamphetamine.
Removing this quantity of methamphetamine from the supply chain equates to reducing the drug harm that would have otherwise been caused to the community by $148 million, police said in a statement.
Search warrants, carried out on Tuesday night, looked at residential and commercial addresses in Auckland’s Lynfield, Waitakere, Newmarket, Epsom, Avondale and New Lynn.
Lynch said the joint investigation was a good example of cooperation between New Zealand agencies and overseas partners to disrupt the supply chain of methamphetamine.
Customs investigations manager Maurice O’Brien said criminal syndicates are becoming more sophisticated in their methods of concealment, but these are not beyond the detection of law enforcement authorities.