Drug Trafficking Bigger Problem Than Most New Zealanders Realise

  • David Carter
Associate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control

"Drug trafficking is a more serious problem for New Zealand than most people realise," says the Minister responsible for the day to day operations of Customs, Hon David Carter.

"In my three months working with Customs I've been amazed at the scale of illegal drugs Customs has intercepted coming into this country."

"It's a strong reminder of how heavily we rely on Customs to protect New Zealanders from the devastating consequences of drug trafficking."

The Minister was commenting on a statement made by Customs CEO, Graeme Ludlow, today that enforcement agencies had underestimated the scale of New Zealand's drug market.

Mr Ludlow speaking on the eve of the 40th session of the World Customs Organisation Policy Commission in Rotorua, said Police and Customs had been a little surprised over recent years at the size of some drug hauls, apparently intended for the New Zealand market.

"Like most other New Zealanders, I've been unaware of the scale of the problem facing us. New Zealand is definitely being targeted not only as a destination for illegal drug imports, but also as a transit country, and that should concern all of us."

Mr Carter said however he had no complaints with the work being done by the Customs Service to combat drug trafficking.

"Their success rate in recent weeks has to be congratulated. Only last week Customs Officers at the International Mail Centre in Auckland intercepted two envelopes containing almost 24,000 tickets of LSD. That's a staggering haul."

"The week before half a kilogram of compressed cannabis was discovered on a yacht following a Customs search, and in October the detention of an African national found more than 400 grams of heroin concealed in the man's body."

"The lengths to which these people will go to to conceal their drug trafficking is just phenomenal, and Customs has to be commended on their detection work."

Mr Carter said he hoped this week's gathering of Customs delegates from around the world would result in improved co-operation between the countries represented.

"We need to foster and promote the exchange of intelligence and information at this international level, because it is this co-operation by Customs Services globally that will help us combat the scourge of drug trafficking and the exchange of illegal substances," said Mr Carter.