(CNN) – Almost half a ton of drugs, worth approximately 314 million U.S. dollars were uncovered by police in a sting operation that saw the arrest of three men.
This is what $438 million of methamphetamine looks like.
Superintendent Russell Le Prou, Northland and Police District Commander said, “I would say the cops and community is buzzing.” These boats, now in police lock up and being combed over for clues, are what police believe was used to transport the drugs ashore. On Sunday morning police were alerted to an abandoned boat on Northland’s 90 mile beach.
Locals had told police a few weeks ago that the occupants of Toyota Prado and a rental camper van were offering large sums of cash for help to launch boats off this beach. Police say this tip off about suspicious behavior was crucial to the case.
While police were at the boat, they saw the Toyota and pursued it to Ahipara Golf Course. Two men aged twenty six and thirty one year old were arrested. Hours later, the camper van was stopped at Totara north by an off duty officer and the 19 year old driver arrested. Multiple suitcases and bags full of drugs were found in the camper van..
Superintendent Le Prou said, “448 kilo’s of meth going out on the street, we would notice it. It would be a significant impact on the streets of New Zealand and it hasn’t got there.”
The zip lock bags had obviously been in the sea. How they got there is part of the ongoing customs and police operation. Superintendent Le Prou said, “That means it must have been put in the water somewhere, so that’s part of their investigation is to try and establish where the drugs have come from.”
This single haul is larger than the entire total of methamphetamine seized last year and indicative say some of the growing size of New Zealand’s drug problem, but the Prime Minister believes police are resourced to cope with it. Prime Minister Key states, “What it shows you is that the extra resources and the authority that we’ve given them is allowing them to be successful, because this is the very significant haul we’ve seen in recent times.”
The three men charged with importing and possessing for supply of class a drugs have been remanded in custody. They are off the streets as are the drugs they were allegedly trying to distribute.