A US citizen has been stopped at the border attempting to smuggle cocaine inside his body.
He appeared in the Auckland District Court this afternoon and been remanded in custody overnight for a second appearance tomorrow on charges of importation of a Class A controlled drug.
Mark Henderson, aged 41, was profiled by Customs and stopped on arrival from Chile at Auckland International Airport on 15 May. During a search of his luggage he admitted to being an internal drug courier.
Mr Henderson was found to be concealing 62 pellets of cocaine paste with an approximate weight of 1.3kg. He had already passed some of the pellets which were located by airport staff.
Customs Manager Investigations, Mark Day, said he continues to be concerned at the high risks people will take to conceal drugs internally. Customs works closely with medical practitioners when dealing with swallowers.
“Our successes in detecting people carrying drugs internally show that, while difficult to detect, our methods and responses have been effective”, Mr Day said.
“Individuals attempting to smuggle illicit drugs can go to great lengths to conceal them and Customs is continually reviewing its methods to determine how we can improve detection techniques.”
Mr Henderson was arrested and charged by the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ).
OFCANZ Detective Inspector, Steve Wood, said the internal smuggling of cocaine, or any other similar drug poses huge dangers for the carrier. They potentially face life imprisonment when they are caught, but they also risk death. It was only 8 months ago when a Colombian woman travelling to New Zealand from South America died after a package of cocaine burst inside her.“OFCANZ is committed to working alongside New Zealand Customs and other government agencies to prevent and detect these dangerous importations. We must continue to work together to stem the drug supply coming in, before it hits our streets and ends up costing our communities dearly”, Mr Wood said.
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