5 Nov 2012

Algerian police name suspected drug smuggler

5:46 pm on 5 November 2012

Police in Algeria have named the man they think smuggled 165kg of cocaine into the country in a container filled with Fonterra milk powder.

The haul discovered last week is reported as one of the biggest-ever intercepted in the North African country, an important market for the New Zealand dairy industry and worth $346 million.

Freelance journalist Said Chitour told Radio New Zealand on Monday that police suspect Ahmed Youssefi Said is behind the smuggling.

Mr Said reportedly has a network of drug smuggling contacts in Algeria and France. He has been arrested for smuggling before, but was released due to lack of evidence.

Police say they know he imported the milk powder the drugs were hidden in, but are unable to find him. Interpol is being asked to help locate him.

The Algerian government had prevented other containers of New Zealand milk powder from being unloaded due to worries there might be more drugs inside.

However, they have now allowed it to resume after the ban caused a shortage of milk powder in the country.