Protecting communities by targeting drug smugglers

  • Hon Meka Whaitiri

The Coalition Government is protecting our communities from the devastating social harm of methamphetamine and other drugs by enhancing Customs’ ability to disrupt international drug-smuggling networks, says Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri.

“Each year the use of illicit drugs, particularly methamphetamine, is estimated to cost New Zealand $1.8 billion in social harm. 

“Criminal networks don’t care about the devastating effects of methamphetamine. They are motivated by greed and relatively high prices in New Zealand and are getting more sophisticated. Customs is seeing more methamphetamine and other drugs, like cocaine, and in larger quantities.  

“Budget 2018 invests $54.2 million of operating funding over four years to significantly enhance Customs’ capabilities to attack these criminal networks from all angles. This includes an additional 127 Customs staff, both here and overseas.

“New initiatives will disrupt international drug-smuggling networks early in the supply chain by making seizures offshore, while also boosting onshore capabilities through more maritime patrols, frontline resources and community engagement.  

“A further $3.9 million in capital will bolster our maritime and frontline work with new rigid-hull inflatable boats, mobile x-ray vans, and vehicles and kennels for Customs’ detector-dog teams.

“We will also hit organised crime in the pocket by targeting the cross-border flow of criminal proceeds, slashing their profits and preventing re-investment in further criminal activity. 

“The extra investment builds on existing success, with methamphetamine seizures in 2017 preventing devastating social harm. Without it, the impact of drug smuggling would cost the Government and the wider community more in the long term.

“This is the initiative of a Government prepared to take proactive measures to improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders, their families and their communities,” says Meka Whaitiri.