Three students have been imprisoned after they were found importing drugs for making P inside miniature grand pianos.
Customs staff say students being used as drug couriers was becoming a trend.
Flatmates Haojing Li, 23, Zuoquan Wang, 25, and Guangdi Liu, 21, were each sentenced to more than three years' prison for their roles in importing the class B drug Contac NT.
Customs officers found 4.5 kilograms of the compressed drug inside a piano lid in June last year.
This started Operation Mini and two weeks later another piano was intercepted.
Each piano had enough Contac NT to make 1.2kg of methamphetamine. This equates to a street value of $1.44 million.
Investigators caught Li and Liu in their car after they picked up the package. They also had $2255 in cash in the car.
Wang, who had $2150 in his car, was interviewed during a search warrant the same day. He was arrested at Auckland Airport the next day, trying to fly to China.
Customs manager investigations Maurice O'Brien said the case highlighted the trend of international students being used by criminal syndicates to receive and deliver packages.
"It can be particularly distressing for their families in China, as many come from single-child families," O'Brien said.
Illegal activity could be happening anywhere and the public needed to be aware of that.
"Criminals could be renting properties or apartments solely to have packages delivered to that address."
The three were sentenced in the Manukau District Court for importation and possession of a class B controlled drug.
- Fairfax Media