Drugs found in travel pillow

Last updated 12:32 15/01/2014

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Customs officers have found a traveller at Auckland Airport with allegedly about 1 kilogram of cocaine, estimated to have a street value of $600,000.

Tests had confirmed 98 packages of white powder hidden inside a soft travel pillow, found during a baggage examination, held the Class A controlled drug, Customs said.

CT scans revealed two more pellets of cocaine concealed internally by the passenger. Those pellets were recovered using Customs' new drug loo.

The cocaine was allegedly being carried by a 49-year-old Netherlands passport holder from Thailand. The man was visiting New Zealand for the first time. He arrived from Chile early on Sunday morning. He had travelled from Thailand to Brazil for a day, and then spent a week in Bolivia before coming to Auckland via Chile, Customs said.

Further investigations established a connection with a 33-year-old Australian citizen, also visiting New Zealand, who was arrested by Ofcanz (Organised Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand) yesterday.

Two men appeared in court today in connection with the incident.

Customs investigations manager Maurice O'Brien said the arrests were an example of the vigilance shown by Customs officers, who were quick to identify the passenger, locate the drugs, and connect them to a counterpart.

"Customs uses a range of methods to identify people and drug concealments, and those that try to import drugs into the country will not get away with it," he said.

"We work closely with our police and Ofcanz colleagues, and are committed to severing the drug supply chain at the border, apprehending not just the passenger, but others involved."

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