Gillian Rodgers. Photo NZ Herald
An Auckland grandmother opened her suitcase four years
after her last overseas trip to discover $50,000 worth of
amphetamine stashed in a side pocket.
Gillian Rodgers, 74, dug out her old suitcase on Saturday for
a trip to Blenheim and found a tightly-packed bag of white
powder, about the size of a packet of cigarettes.
"I was clearing it out and I saw this packet of white stuff
and I thought, 'wow what's that?' I thought it was something
to keep the suitcase dry. It was like a plastic packet, about
three inches by two inches, and it was solid, like a
She had padlocked every pocket on her bag except the one in
which the drugs were found, she said.
Not knowing what the package was or where it came from, Ms
Rodgers took it to the Albany police station to be examined.
Police have praised Ms Rodgers and started an investigation.
"I couldn't believe it when the policewoman rung me back and
said it was [amphetamine]. She said it was $50,000 worth.
"I didn't for one minute expect it to be drugs even though we
were joking about it that it might have been."
Ms Rodgers last used the suitcase four years ago when she
made a month-long cruise around Australia with a friend
before flying home to Auckland from Sydney.
She suspects someone put the drugs into her suitcase pocket
and that she was being used as mule to get the package into
"I'm baffled. Of course I didn't see anybody put it in there.
The only time I was not in my possession of my luggage was
when it was on the carousel and when I put it on the X-ray
"I still can't believe it was drugs. I wonder if they were
going to try to retrieve it. I'm sure they would have wanted
it back. I wonder if they followed me."
It was only luck she wasn't caught with the drugs at Auckland
Airport, she said. But the discovery over the weekend raised
questions about the screening process at the airports on both
sides of the Tasman.
"I could've been picked up at the airport. Or if I'd gone
through somewhere like Bali or Thailand with that in my bag
Customs spokeswoman Nicky Elliott said the airport protocols
"There is no way to determine where and when the drugs were
placed in the suitcase," she said.
"This could have happened anytime since she last used the
She said Customs processed about 10 million travellers a
year, and all were screened through risk assessment and
"If there is no alert, the passenger is not stopped unless as
part of routine screening procedures.
"We are confident this system works well and that the border
is fully protected."
North Shore area commander Inspector Shanan Gray said Ms
Rodgers did the right thing by bringing in the "unusual"
The owner of the 55g of amphetamine - a Class A drug - could
face a maximum life sentence, if found and convicted, Mr Gray
"We are investigating. If we can establish an owner of the
item then we'd look at prosecution. We may look at Customs
records, inquiries with the cruise ship company ... there's
multiple lines of inquiries we can exhaust before we put it
Flight Centre New Zealand's general manager of retail, Sue
Matson, said travellers should remain vigilant on holiday.
"Lock all zips and clearly label your bags, don't carry items
for strangers, and, for extra safety, you can always get your
bag wrapped at the airport.
"If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't."