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Chinese man jailed on drug import charges

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/09/2016

A Chinese man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for attempting to import $1.9 million worth of ephedrine hidden in ashtrays, hand warmers and belts.

Shuai Zhao, 31, was sentenced in Manukau District Court and will serve at least half his term before facing deportation.

The Customs Service said that, between August and October 2015, officers seized nine separate consignments addressed to different Auckland homes.

Ashtrays from Malaysia, hand warmers from China and belts from France all hid ephedrine totalling 16.8kg.

Zhao, who arrived in New Zealand in July 2015, was identified as the recipient and customs officers at Auckland airport stopped him from leaving the country in early November.

Customs investigations manager Maurice O'Brien said drug syndicates used different tactics for smuggling and distributing drugs.

He said Zhao was believed to have been recruited overseas for the specific purpose of coming to New Zealand to receive the drugs and pass them on for distribution.

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