4 Dec 2013

Police smash major drugs syndicate

9:13 pm on 4 December 2013

Police say they have broken up a major drug syndicate in New Zealand, with a record haul of drugs and assets seized.

Bags of ContacNT seized during the searches.

Bags of ContacNT seized during the searches. Photo: NZ POLICE

Twenty-four people have been arrested and $20 million worth of assets, including luxury cars, were recovered on Wednesday morning.

Some 250 officers from police, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency and Customs executed 40 search warrants in Auckland and Waikato following an 18-month operation.

Some 64kg of the methamphetamine pre-cursor ContacNT was found on Wednesday, while 267kg was seized in October this year.

Police say in total, they have now taken control of $120 million worth of drugs and assets, including 330kg of ContacNT.

Police say the Class B drug was enough to make 100kg of methamphetamine, also known as "P", with a street value of $100 million.

Assistant Police Commissioner Malcolm Burgess told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint that a huge amount of money was discovered.

"They were making a lot of money. The cash that was recovered today is probably more cash in one place than I've ever seen in my life. A table full of $100 and $20 notes and various overseas currency as well."

Mr Burgess said police had help from Chinese authorities and the Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau.

"We've got good networks with the Chinese authorities, which have been built up over the last few years, based on our understanding of where the pre-cursor drugs are coming from and to the extent that they're able to provide us with assistance."

Mr Burgess said those arrested include business owners, students and the unemployed. He said teams are now going after property and bank accounts to recover proceeds from the operation and further arrests are likely.