Customs seizures stop $1 billion of drug harm

updated By Jessica Tyson

In 2017 customs seized $1bil worth of potential drug harm at New Zealand borders, including over a tonne of illicit drugs, according to the government.

Methamphetamine and ephedrine made up the bulk of the seizures at nearly 897kg, says Minister of Customs Hon Meka Whaitiri.

Other interceptions included cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, LSD, Class C analogues, psychoactive substances, as well as more than 238,000 items such as tabs and pills.

Whaitiri says the “destructive drugs” would have been worth hundreds of millions of dollars on the streets.

“It’s pleasing to know these seizures would have stopped many criminals in their tracks," she says.

“More importantly, these seizures have protected our families, whānau and the wider community from a considerable amount of potential harm.”

According to the New Zealand Drug Foundation, over the last decade, meth seizures have dramatically increased in New Zealand.

In 2007, nearly 40kg was seized.  Seizure quantities stayed below 53kg until 2013.

Then in 2014 that figure more than doubled to almost 100kg and then more than tripled in 2015 to 341kg. 

Executive director of the NZ Drug Foundation Ross Bell says, “There is a simple equation here; as long as there is a demand for meth there will be a supply.  So let's flip this around and instead of trying to stop the supply of meth we have to stop the demand.”

Meanwhile, Whaitiri congratulates customs for their achievements in the last year.

“It is so heartening to know the passion and commitment that our customs officers share to protect this country.  I commend customs and the great job they are doing.”