Police bust Nigerian drug ring in Woodville

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:36 13/12/2013

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A Nigerian living in Woodville has been arrested part of an alleged multi-million-dollar drug ring.

The 35-year-old man was one of ten people arrested during a five-week investigation.

Inquires began when a 68-year-old Auckland man was last month caught returning to the country from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, with 1.5kg of methamphetamine.

Detective Senior Sergeant Lloyd Schmid said the man had been recruited by expatriate Nigerian drug dealers and believed he made the trip thinking he was going to be given a large amount of money.

The drugs, concealed in two bags given to the man, had a street value of $1.5 million dollars and were found by customs officers who profiled the man on his return at Auckland International Airport.

The find led to a five-week joint OFCANZ and NZ Customs Service investigation that identified two further importations of methamphetamine totalling more than 1.2 kilograms and valued at $1.2 million, and the issuing of the search warrants.

The Woodville man was arrested on December 6, when he flew to Auckland and came to the attention of detectives working on the case.

The other nine people arrested all resided in Auckland.

Mr Schmid said he sent staff to Woodville from Auckland on Wednesday to search the man's home.

He did not know why the man was living so far away from the rest of those arrested in the sting, but said he believed he had a partner and child there.

''There is no indication his residence was in furtherance of their criminal activity.''

The man appeared in the Manakau District Court, facing three charges of importing a class A controlled drug, two charges of possession of a class A controlled drug and conspiracy to import a class A drug.

The other men arrested face a host of charges of a similar nature.

Mr Schmid said no distinctive leader of the group had emerged.

''No one has stood out as such, they all knew each other, they all had their role to play, we know they had communications from Nigeria.''

"This investigation demonstrates that the New Zealand drug market is being targeted by organised crime syndicates from every corner of the globe," Mr Schmid said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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