Shock drug bust

Lesotho Times - - International - — AFP

AUCKLAND — New Zealand po­lice said on Sun­day they have seized a record NZ$14 mil­lion (about M145 mil­lion) worth of co­caine hid­den in­side a large dia­mante-en­crusted horse head from Mex­ico.

The largest-ever haul of the drug in New Zealand has been linked to the re­build of the city of Christchurch, se­verely dam­aged in a 2011 earth­quake, and the Aus­tralian mar­ket. De­tec­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Vir­ginia Le Bas, from the or­gan­ised crime unit, said they were still work­ing to es­tab­lish the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion of the haul.

“This is a sig­nif­i­cant win for New Zealand,” she said. “This is a great suc­cess, we should be proud to have de­tected it at the ear­li­est of stages.”

The 35kg ship­ment had been air-freighted from Mex­ico to Auckland where it was de­tected in the be­jew­elled horse-head statue in May. Fol­low­ing a six-week in­ves­ti­ga­tion, a Mex­i­can and an Amer­i­can were ar­rested in Auckland at the week­end as they pre­pared to fly to Hawaii and an­other Mex­i­can was detained in Christchurch.

Po­lice be­lieve at least some of the drug was des­tined for Christchurch which has at­tracted work­ers from around the world to get in­volved in the re­build over re­cent years. Le Bas said some peo­ple in Christchurch were us­ing the drug and the re­build had cre­ated a change in de­mand for some il­licit sub­stances.

Drug re­searcher Chris Wilkins, from Massey Univer­sity, told re­porters the drug may also have been des­tined for Aus­tralia where de­mand was high in cities like Syd­ney and Mel­bourne.

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