Criminals' cash funds drug screening lab
The country's first drug screening laboratory at the border has been paid for by an unlikely group of benefactors - criminals.
The new $250,000 lab was opened by Prime Minister John Key and Customs Minister Nicky Wagner today at Customs' Auckland Airport facility.
It was built and equipped using the first proceeds of crime funding allocation from the 2009 Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
Key said the lab was the first of its kind.
"We allocated $335,000 to Customs, and we want to obviously enhance our ability to stop drugs at the border and we want to use the money we've taken from the criminals to catch more criminals."
In the six months to the end of June this year, Customs made 45 methamphetamine seizures totalling almost 36kg, he said.
More than 319kg of ingredients used in methamphetamine had also been seized.
"In the end I think the results of what we're doing here speak for themselves."
Wagner said the new lab would dramatically speed up analysis of substances, saving time and money for Customs.
Samples were previously sent to Environmental Science and Research where results took up to six weeks.
Results would now be known in minutes, and Customs expected it would send around 65 samples every week to the lab.