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New Zealand

New Zealand police seize 190kg of cocaine hidden among bananas in country’s largest ever drug bust

  • The shipment of illicit drugs with an estimated street value of US$25 million was heading to Auckland from Balboa in Panama
PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 11:20pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2018, 5:04am

New Zealand police and customs officials have seized 190kg (419lbs) of cocaine with a street value of up to NZ$36 million (US$25 million) that was hidden in a shipment of bananas following the country’s largest ever drug bust.

A 41-year-old man was arrested in neighbouring Australia in connection with the seizure, New Zealand authorities said in a statement.

The haul followed an Australian investigation into an organised crime group. Officials there said a potential shipment of illicit drugs was heading to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, after leaving Balboa, Panama, on August 4.

The shipment arrived in Auckland on August 20. Authorities inspected the container and found five duffel bags on top of banana boxes that contained 190 blocks of cocaine, each weighing around a kilogram (2.2lbs).

The joint investigation between New Zealand and Australian authorities concluded in the past 24 hours with the arrest of the unidentified man in Sydney, the statement said.

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Police said the drugs were destined for Australia.

“This seizure has stopped what would have been a very significant amount of harm,” New Zealand’s Minister of Customs Kris Faafoi said in a separate statement.