20 Sep 2019

$86m drug bust: Kiwis willing to pay more for their high

5:36 pm on 20 September 2019

New Zealand drug users are being targeted by overseas criminals because they are prepared to pay such a high price for their high, police say.

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Photo: wikipedia

More than 200 kilos of methamphetamine, worth $86 million, was seized in raids in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty this week in the latest of a series of large hauls.

Detective Inspector Paul Newman said kiwi meth users were prepared to pay as much as three times the amount of their US counterparts and that was attracting overseas drugs syndicates.

It was likely the latest haul was imported from Central America, he said.

"If you were to pick up a kilo of methamphetamine in a place like Mexico it would cost you around $US4000, if you put it over the border to the US about $40,000, but if you ship it to New Zealand and Australia you're looking at anywhere between $100,000 and $150,000," he said.

The reason for the price difference was most likely because goods tend to cost less in a larger market like the US.

"It's pretty much economics. These criminals are, at the heart of it, business people trying to peddle their wares. Unfortunately the wares that they peddle create a tremendous amount of social harm," Mr Newman said

Australia and New Zealand were increasingly seen as one market, and police in both countries had worked together on the investigation, he said.

Two New Zealanders and an Australian have been charged with possessing methamphetamine for supply after the most recent haul.

The bust had likely taken four months worth of stock off the streets, Mr Newman said.

More than a tonne of methamphetamine had been captured by the police and customs since July.