Two people have been arrested after allegedly trying to smuggle $20 million worth of cocaine and methamphetamine into the country.
Two foreigners – a 30-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man – are in custody and could face life sentences for two separate alleged smuggling attempts.
The woman, from Uruguay, was arrested for allegedly trying to import 4.3kg of cocaine into New Zealand, after arriving at Auckland Airport on Wednesday.
The first time visitor to New Zealand was questioned and her luggage examined.
The class A drug was found hidden in two false-bottomed suitcases, says Customs.
Spokesman Peter Lewis says the cocaine had an estimated street value of between $1.2 and $1.9 million.
"The arrest is a testament to the ongoing work by Customs that includes the use of technology and passenger information to improve profiling to identify high-risk passengers.
"The seizure suggests there is a market for cocaine, and Customs is committed to preventing it and any other drugs from getting past our border and onto our streets."
The woman appeared in the Manukau District Court on Thursday.
She was charged with importing and possession for supply of a class A drug, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The 28-year-old man, a Canadian passport holder, also appeared in the Manukau District Court on Thursday, following the seizure of 18kg of methamphetamine found hidden in printer toner cartridges.
The package, declared as ’toners’ sent via international mail from the United States, was intercepted on March 15.
It had a potential street value of between $6.3-$21.6 million.
Customs investigators arrested the man at a south-east Auckland house on Wednesday evening.
Michael Blades, Customs’ acting investigations manager, says the man had rented a room "for a short period of time" to receive illegal packages.
"While Customs actively profiles and targets the activities of criminal syndicates at the border, it is important communities in New Zealand are also aware of their methods, so people don’t become unwittingly involved.
The man was also charged with the importation and possession for supply of a class A controlled drug, and was remanded in custody until his next court appearance in April.