A record-breaking haul of drugs at the heart of an
international operation probably entered New Zealand in a
shipping container, police say.
More than $120 million in drugs and assets were seized this
morning in an 18-month investigation involving 330 officers
from police, OFCANZ and Customs.
Forty search warrants were executed at residential and
business premises in Auckland and Waikato, and 24 people were
More than 330 kilograms of the Class B drug ContacNT was
seized in what police described as "the biggest haul of its
kind in New Zealand history''.
ContacNT is manufactured legally in China but is used in New
Zealand to produce methamphetamine.
The ContacNT seized during the so-called Operation Ghost is
enough to produce up to 100 kilograms of methamphetamine
which has a corresponding street value of $100 million.
Today's operation followed the seizure of 267 kilograms of
ContacNT at three Auckland properties as part of the
investigation in October. Four people were arrested at that
An additional 64 kilograms of ContacNT was discovered this
More arrests and potentially more asset seizures were
expected, police said.
Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said the drugs
were thought to have entered New Zealand in a shipping
container and were offloaded here.
The impact on the drug market would be significant, he said.
"Police and OFCANZ have eliminated a criminal network
responsible for importing and distributing Class B drugs
which are used to produce methamphetamine.
"Operation Ghost sends a powerful message to the criminal
community that we will use every legal avenue at our disposal
to target organised crime in New Zealand.''
During the termination phase of Operation Ghost, 15.5 ounces
of methamphetamine were also discovered and approximately
$1.5 million in cash was seized.
The investigation also saw assistance from the Ministry for
Primary Industries, IRD, MBIE and the Department of Internal
Affairs, Mr Burgess said.
"We would also like to acknowledge the National Narcotics
Control Commission from the Peoples Republic of China and the
Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau for their help during Operation
The 24 individuals arrested this morning are all New Zealand
citizens or permanent residents. The average age of those
arrested was 40-years-old.
- By Brendan Manning of APNZ