Two men have appeared in court today charged over the seizure
of about 1kg of cocaine stashed inside a travel pillow - and
inside one of the men.
Customs officials detained one man, Dutch passport holder
Peter Koeman, at Auckland Airport on Sunday morning.
The illegal haul has an estimated street value of about
Koeman, 49, appeared briefly in the Manukau District Court
today and entered no pleas to one charge each of importing a
class A drug and possessing it to supply.
Australian national David Thackray, 33, is charged with
importing a class A drug. He also entered no plea and, along
with Koeman, was remanded in custody until next month.
At their next appearance both men appear via audio-visual
link from Mt Eden Prison.
All charges have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
A statement from Customs said Koeman, who is from Thailand,
flew to New Zealand from Chile on Sunday morning. He had
travelled from Thailand to Brazil for a day and then spent a
week in Bolivia.
It is alleged he was carrying a soft travel pillow containing
98 packages of cocaine when he arrived in New Zealand.
An X-ray of Koeman revealed two more pellets inside him,
They were recovered using Customs' new "drug loo", a portable
device that automatically collects and cleans the pellets and
then puts them into an evidence container.
Thackray, Koeman's alleged accomplice, was arrested by the
Organised Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand.
The pair's arrests come a week after a 72-year-old US citizen
was charged with importing about 6.2kg of methamphetamine
worth between $3 million and $6 million late last year.
- Jimmy Ellingham