A Portuguese national who tried to smuggle $1.2 million worth of cocaine into New Zealand will spend just over eight years in prison.

Helder Soares Gomez, 47, was sentenced today in the Manukau District Court after he was stopped by Customs officers at Auckland Airport on October 13 last year and found to be carrying 2.6kg of cocaine.

A baggage examination revealed cocaine with a street value of up to $1.2 million hidden in the lining of his two suitcases. During the interview, he admitted to agreeing to carry the cocaine-filled bags for money.

He was sentenced to eight years and three months in jail, which he will serve in New Zealand.

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A baggage examination revealed cocaine with a street value of up to $1.2 million hidden in the lining of his two suitcases. Photo / Customs NZ
A baggage examination revealed cocaine with a street value of up to $1.2 million hidden in the lining of his two suitcases. Photo / Customs NZ

Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry said Gomez' form of concealment was not particularly sophisticated, and showed the man's greed overrode his common sense.

"Thorough examination by Customs officers at the airport led to the seizure, and this man will now spend considerable time in jail."

Since Gomez' arrest four months ago, Customs has arrested three other cocaine couriers at Auckland Airport and worked with overseas partners to stop another cocaine courier from travelling to NZ.

The five couriers intercepted both here and overseas carried a total of 15.8kg of cocaine.

Based on the NZ Drug Harm Index, these airport seizures have prevented potential additional harm to New Zealanders worth around $19.6 million.