Men flew from Australia to NZ to pick up $7.65m worth of cocaine, police say

The drugs seized by police. Photo: Supplied / Police

Two men who allegedly flew to New Zealand from Australia to pick up $7.65 million worth of cocaine have been arrested.

Detective Inspector Tom Gollan said the men were found on 1 June at a commercial address in Auckland’s Onehunga.

They were arrested after they allegedly attempted to break into a container where 17 kilograms of cocaine had been placed.

Gollan said the men were believed to be members of an organised crime syndicate and that they only came to New Zealand to pick up the drugs.

One man is an Australian national while the other is New Zealand-born but living in Australia.

Gollan said they were arrested as they left the container yard on electric scooters.

Detective Inspector Tom Gollan, from Police’s National Organised Crime Group, says Police alongside our partners at New Zealand Customs Service, have dismantled an Australian Transnational Organised Crime (TNOC) cell under Operation Matrix.
In the process, cocaine at a retail value of $7.65 million has been prevented from communities in either Australia or New Zealand.

The drugs were concealed in a container, police say. Photo: Supplied / Police

“They left behind a ladder they had transported to the yards by way of the scooters.

“Both men, aged 33 and 42, have since been charged with burglary and the possession for supply of cocaine.”

An investigation has shown the container made its way to New Zealand from Brazil, having transited through Brisbane in Australia before arriving at the Port of Auckland in late May.

Police said the value of the cocaine was $7.65m but it was not known if it was meant for the New Zealand or Australian market.

“This is the 26th TNOC Operational Cell that has been identified and dismantled since 2017,” Gollan said.

“It is disconcerting to see overseas transnational organised groups insert their people into New Zealand to facilitate these crimes and demonstrates their willingness to profit from community misery.

“While these TNOC groups continue to evolve and adapt their offending to avoid detection, but so do we, and yet again we were one rung ahead of them.”

Customs manager Dominic Adams said the “successful seizure” showed partner agencies like police and Customs are always one step ahead of criminal groups.

“We are ever-vigilant to stopping the harm that dangerous substances such as cocaine can cause our communities.”

The two men have appeared in the Auckland District Court and will next appear on 25 June.

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