Monday 19 August 2019

British pair arrested after £76m methamphetamine raid

The men, aged 60 and 49, were arrested as part of Operation Essex.

Boxes containing methamphetamine are displayed by the police in Auckland (New Zealand Police/AP)
Boxes containing methamphetamine are displayed by the police in Auckland (New Zealand Police/AP)

By Nick Perry

Two British men have been arrested in New Zealand after police found a huge stash of methamphetamine potentially worth tens of millions of pounds in an Auckland apartment.

Police said the men, aged 60 and 49, were held after authorities targeted a foreign criminal organisation working in New Zealand as part of what they are calling Operation Essex.

Officers said the raid was one of the largest of its kind in New Zealand.

Police said they searched the apartment last week and found plastic storage containers inside cardboard packing boxes that were filled with more than 200kg (441lbs) of meth with a street value of 144 million New Zealand dollars (£76 million).

In part due to New Zealand’s isolated location, drugs like methamphetamine tend to bring a higher price there than in many other parts of the world.

Detective Inspector Paul Newman told reporters they arrested a 60-year-old man at the apartment and a 49-year-old man at Auckland Airport.

ipanews_53abfda2-f499-4747-a168-4aac9b3f9faa_embedded244568644
The meth was worth tens of millions of pounds on the street (New Zealand Police/AP)

Both men remain in jail and have been charged with possessing methamphetamine with intent to supply.

Mr Newman said: “We’re making inquiries with police liaison officers overseas and hopefully tapping into our law enforcement partners overseas to try and work out the threat that this syndicate poses to New Zealand.”

In an unrelated drug seizure, police said they believe that packages of cocaine that washed up on an Auckland beach this week likely drifted for a year and over hundreds of miles across the Tasman Sea from Australia.

Detective Inspector Colin Parmenter said that in August 2018, Australian authorities intercepted an inflatable boat off the northern coast of New South Wales.

He said two people who were arrested at the time were seen dumping packages of cocaine into the ocean.

Mr Parmenter said most of the cocaine had since been recovered. He said that the drugs that washed up in New Zealand matched the markings and packaging of the Australian drugs.

The cocaine found on the beach had an estimated street value of about three million New Zealand dollars (£1.5 million).

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News