College courier problem 'ignored'

By Lincoln Tan

High school principals say they have not been contacted by police and are not aware of any Chinese students from their schools being used as "drug catchers".

Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Cahill of the Auckland Metro drug squad said students from high schools all over Auckland - including Auckland Grammar, Takapuna Grammar, Mt Roskill Grammar and Avondale College - were being recruited to receive parcels containing pseudoephedrine-based ContacNT cold tablets.

"To be blunt, it is surprising that they [police] are advising third parties something like this is happening when they are yet to identify who, what, when and how," said Avondale principal Brent Lewis.

Mr Lewis said he had "never been advised by police" about the matter, and that it would be hard to take any action until the police briefed the college on the issue and identified the particular students involved.

Mt Roskill principal Greg Watson also said he was not aware of the issue and had not been contacted by police.

Police are holding sessions to warn students of the dangers of carrying things they cannot personally vouch for, or allowing their New Zealand address to be used for overseas deliveries.

But police Asian liaison officer Raymond Wong said many schools were "in denial" and some refused to accept there was a drug problem among their students. He said many were even reluctant to let the police run personal safety workshops for students, saying it did not fit the school's curriculum.

Mr Wong said many Chinese students had been raised in a society that equated money with power, and as a result were prepared to run the risk of smuggling the drug.

"They think the worst thing that can happen if they get caught is that they get deported back home."

However, a young Chinese woman who became an unwitting recruit while studying at Takapuna Grammar in 2007 says the idea of using Chinese students as "drug catchers" to import pseudoephedrine is not new.

A parcel of instant noodles and computer parts sent to her at her homestay address for a friend turned out to be a drug parcel, containing packets of ContacNT.

"I was totally shocked, but after speaking to my parents in China, I reported it to the police," said the woman, who did not want to be identified because she feared for her safety.

"The whole exercise is like a pyramid scheme, where the deliveries are spread to so many students' homes and homestays that it is difficult to identify who is innocently involved and who is not."

- NZ Herald

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