NZ police seize 44kgs of meth in major drug operation in Auckland

As stated by Detective Inspector Paul Newman, National Organised Crime Group

Police have seized over 44 kilograms of methamphetamine – half of which was concealed inside a bathtub – as part of an operation targeting the import of the drug and associated money laundering.

Over the past two days, Police carried out 18 search warrants throughout the wider Auckland area as part of an 11 month-long investigation dubbed Operation Worthington, run by the National Organised Crime Group.

The warrants were executed in suburbs including Ranui, Sandringham, Onehunga, Auckland CBD, Pakuranga, West Harbour and Wattle Downs.

A total of 21 people were arrested and face more than 200 charges between them relating to the importation of drugs, money laundering and participating in an organised criminal group.

As part of yesterday’s efforts, close to a million dollars in cash has been seized and the Asset Recovery Unit seized eight properties, a car park and four high end vehicles.

The total assets seized is worth over $10 million, which will be forfeited to the Crown’s consolidated fund.

Detective Inspector Paul Newman says the investigation initially focused on a group of individuals allegedly laundering millions of dollars in cash obtained from criminal offending in New Zealand.

However, detectives soon established that these individuals were allegedly part of a wider, very sophisticated syndicate involved in importing large quantities of methamphetamine and its precursors, along with other drugs such as ketamine and MDMA.

As part of the operation and with assistance from New Zealand Customs, a number of drug imports were intercepted and seized including a bathtub concealing over 25kgs of methamphetamine.

Police also seized a further 19kgs of methamphetamine over the course of the investigation. The drugs had been smuggled into the country in various ways.

Police also seized 26 kilograms of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and five kilograms of ketamine and three kilograms of MDMA.

Detective Inspector Paul Newman says the seizures mean a large quantity of these drugs, which cause immeasurable harm in our communities, has been taken off the streets.

“This operation is all about preventing harm in our communities. We have followed the money and it has lead us to substantial drug offending. Money has been their weakness; it is hard to conceal and our investigation has exploited this,” Detective Inspector Newman says.

Those arrested, aged between 19 and 43, are due to appear in the Auckland District Court.

Police cannot rule out further arrests or charges as the operation remains ongoing.

/NZ Police Public Release. View in full here.