John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Online drug trade triggers high alert

Mark Day. Photo / Greg Bowker
Mark Day. Photo / Greg Bowker

A clandestine online marketplace is the source of scores of drug interceptions each week.

Customs said it was on "high alert" keeping up with shipments from the Silk Road website.

"We became aware of Silk Road late last year," said Customs manager of drug investigations Mark Day. "There was a wee bit of information internationally. It wasn't a lot, but then we started to trip over a couple of imports that were brought in."

The Herald on Sunday first revealed New Zealand links to activity on the website this month.

Notable seizures included a 171g crystal methamphetamine parcel and various high-quality cocaine, heroin and MDMA shipments. "There have been approximately 80 intercepts a month [from] people we believe have utilised the Silk Road enterprise," Day said.

In cases linked to Silk Road from January to July, 13 search warrants were issued, 15 further properties visited and seven arrests made. People in Waihi, Takaka, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have been linked to Silk Road.

Innovative smuggling attempts included an overseas drug vendor who cut into a bubble-wrap envelope, put tablets inside bubbles, then resealed the bubble wrap.

Our earlier report stated child porn was offered on the site, but there is no evidence the products offered involve exploitation of underage people.

- Herald on Sunday

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