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Customs seize record $176m meth bust

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/10/2016 A 20-year-old Hong Kong national has appeared in court after a record $176 million meth bust by NZ C

A man who allegedly tried to smuggle methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $176 million into New Zealand disguised as packages of tea has appeared in court.

It's Customs New Zealand's largest-ever meth seizure.

The 20-year-old Hong Kong national appeared in Auckland District Court on Friday, Customs said.

The charge related to his role in attempting to smuggle an estimated 176 kilograms of meth.

He will next appear in Auckland District Court on November 17.

Customs said it began the investigation 16 months ago when it identified a company believed to have been set up in June 2015 to smuggle meth.

In July 2016, Customs intercepted 10 shipping containers sent to this company from China, with meth packages found concealed within the containers' doors.

Further investigations linked the shipment to the 20-year-old man.

He was arrested following two search warrants in Auckland in early October, where further evidence of his involvement was found.

Customs Group Manager Intelligence, Investigations and Enforcement, Jamie Bamford, says based on the NZ Drug Harm Index, this seizure has prevented a potential social harm of up to $218m.

"This operation is ongoing, and we are not ruling out further arrests," he said.

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