New seizure lifts drugs bust tally

A 264kg cache of drugs hidden in a shipping container was allegedly destined for a Chinese restaurant in downtown Auckland and police say another 142kg shipment of pseudoephedrine slipped through the border earlier this year.

The consignment of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine was concealed inside packets of bread crumbs and police say the amount is enough to cook $72 million of methamphetamine (P).

Detectives working in Operation Ghost knew a shipment of drugs was imminent and intelligence gathered from the 18-month inquiry allowed them to identify the correct container to search at the Ports of Auckland on Sunday.

The discovery means that a total of 594kg of Class-B drugs have been seized in the inquiry - enough to manufacture $172 million of P.

The Herald revealed last week that Jin Hai Wan, a yum cha establishment in Wakefield St, was under surveillance during the covert inquiry, and can reveal the most recently intercepted shipment was destined for the restaurant.

The police case is that the restaurant was used as a cover for drug smuggling and pseudoephedrine was allegedly distributed out the back entrance on Airedale St.

Owner Hui Zhang, 43, was denied bail nearly a fortnight ago when charged with importing and supplying the Class B drug pseudoephedrine. He is likely to face further charges on the newly discovered shipment.

Detective Inspector Bruce Good, of the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand, also revealed the existence of an earlier shipment of 142kg bread crumbs in May which managed to slip through the border.

Charges of importing pseudoephedrine are likely to be laid in regards to that consignment, which Mr Good said was similar to the shipments in which the Class B drug was found.

Operation Ghost was an 18-month investigation which focused on a group of alleged senior Asian organised crime figures operating in New Zealand, which led to more than 30 arrests. Homes, cars and cash worth more than $20 million were seized.

- Jared Savage of the NZ Herald

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