A $1 million stash of cocaine found by chance in a shipping
container in Christchurch was likely intended for European
consumption, police say.
Police revealed yesterday that the three packages of the
Class A drug - each weighing 1kg - were worth about $1.05
million on New Zealand streets.
But they believe the container was intended for the Dutch
city of Rotterdam, and had been shipped around the world for
up to a year before landing at Lyttelton and being sent for
The cocaine was found at the Lyttelton Port Company's
Woolston depot on February 10.
Police and Customs officers were alerted after one of the
packages containing white powder fell from a refrigeration
unit inside an empty shipping container that was being
Two similar packages were also discovered hidden in
refrigeration ducts accessible only from inside the
Detective Inspector Virginia Le Bas said tests confirmed the
powder was cocaine and inquiries revealed the container in
which it was found had been routed from South America to
The container's manifest indicated it had spent up to a year
in transit around the world before landing in Lyttelton.
"We believe that the original destination was Rotterdam," she
said. "Indications are that the packages had been in the
container for some time."
Ms Le Bas said it was "not unusual" for illicit drug
shipments to be lost.
Drug traffickers were sending out "kilograms and kilograms"
of cocaine around the world and had to know where they would
"It's a bit hit and miss and sometimes things must get lost,"
Cocaine was worth about $350 a gram in New Zealand.
Police were sure the shipment was not intended for the New
"Cases such as these are not unusual, with law enforcement
agencies around the world encountering similar situations to
this," Ms Le Bas said.
Police said earlier that cocaine seizures were relatively
uncommon in Canterbury.
Police and Customs had concluded their investigations.
- By Cullen Smith of the Christchurch Star