9 Sep 2011

Internal drug intercepts up by 400%

11:14 am on 9 September 2011

Customs says the number of interceptions of people trying to smuggled drugs into the country internally has increased by 400% in the past year.

It says the fact that more people are resorting to smuggling drugs this way shows other border protection measures are working.

A Colombian woman died in Auckland hospital on Wednesday after internally carrying at least 26 packages believed to contain more than 0.5kg of cocaine.

Sorlinda Arirtizabal Vega, 37, arrived with other family members from Buenos Aires on Tuesday.

Customs caught eight people trying to enter New Zealand concealing drugs in their bodies last year, including one man carrying 175 packages.

Drug investigations manager Mark Day says organised crime syndicates are resorting to desperate measures as efforts to secure New Zealand's borders become more effective.

He says that if Customs can access improved technology, such as body scanners, it will not only help stop the flow of drugs but potentially save the lives of those trying to smuggle them.