More baggage handlers and gang members arrested for drug trafficking operation

Five of those arrested were reportedly involved in transporting 30 kg of methamphetamine, wrapped and disguised as taro and cassava, in a container from Tonga to the port of Auckland.

Among those arrested, two were working or transporting containers from the Port of Auckland.

“Two members of the King Cobra gang and a gang associate have also been charged,” police said. “Two firearms were also seized during search warrants as well as $ 20,000 in cash.”

It comes after 14 people, including Auckland Airport baggage handlers, were arrested in a similar investigation last month. Police said six other Air New Zealand baggage handlers were charged on Wednesday.

“Nineteen search warrants were executed today in Auckland relating to further allegations of drug trafficking between Los Angeles Airport (LAX) and Auckland Airport, which also involved the use of trafficking. drug.

“Fourteen people have been charged in Auckland in connection with this criminal syndicate, which allegedly involved uncontrolled objects placed on planes flying from LAX to Auckland airport.

“Police will claim that uncontrolled items were placed in the holds of planes bound for Auckland before being removed from the plane where the alleged offenders would bypass security and remove drugs from the airport.”

Detective Inspector Paul Newman said the arrests show gangs continue to be at the center of this type of crime.

“I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of our police and customs investigators in identifying vulnerabilities at our border.

“We have worked closely with Air New Zealand during this investigation. This partnership has been important in being able to move the investigations forward and achieve the results we have achieved today.

“This type of offense is of great concern not only because of the damage caused by drugs when they enter our communities, but also because the possibility of placing uncontrolled objects on planes threatens the integrity and safety of the world. air Transport.”

Customs intelligence official Bruce Berry said organized crime groups are actively seeking to manipulate existing supply chain systems.

“Organizations within the supply chain have an important role to play in helping us protect New Zealand.

“Businesses know what their normal situation looks like – by reporting suspicious shipments, situations or interactions to customs, they can help strengthen intelligence and stop cross-border crime.

“We continue to work closely with industry, including at airports and ports which have been very cooperative with such investigations.”

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