$450M worth of methamphetamine seized in Kaitaia

News 14/06/2016

Police in Northland have seized nearly half a tonne of methamphetamine in Kaitaia, with a street value of around $448 million.

It's 34 percent more than all the meth police recovered in 2015, and they say it's "without a doubt" the biggest bust in New Zealand's history.

"Wherever this methamphetamine was headed it was going to cause harm, and it's thanks to the Kaitaia community, who were not going to tolerate this, that we've managed to stop the harm from this massive haul of meth," says district commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou.

Early on Sunday morning police found an abandoned boat on 90 Mile Beach with "a number of mesh bags on the back of it".

They immediately began looking for a Toyota Prado and a rental campervan, because locals had reported the occupants acting suspiciously and offering large amounts of cash for assistance launching boats off the beach.

While they were recovering the boat the Prado drove past, failed to stop when signalled and a pursuit began. The occupants -- two men, aged 31 and 26 -- were arrested at the Ahipara Golf Course a short time later.

Hours later, the campervan was spotted in Totara North. Inside, police found "what appeared to be multiple bags of methamphetamine".

The 19-year-old driver was arrested, and a thorough search of the campervan uncovered even more meth -- inside zip-lock bags, hidden inside suitcases and other bags.

A joint police and Customs investigation is now underway as to where the meth came from and where it was headed. They believe the drugs have been retrieved from the waters off 90 Mile Beach, as many of the bags showed signs of exposure to salt water.

The total amount of meth seized in 2015 was 334kg.

The three men arrested will appear in Kaitaia District Court on Tuesday, jointly charged with importing Class A drugs and possession for supply of a Class A drug, namely methamphetamine.

"We received notification of several cases of suspicious behaviour in the past few weeks, and that has allowed us to get to this point," says Supt Le Prou.

Police want to hear from anyone else who noticed suspicious behaviour from anyone in Northland, travelling in a Toyota Prado with a boat or campervan, in the past two weeks. They can be contacted on (09) 408 6500, or information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.