Cocaine, meth, pills and cannabis are being smuggled through the Port of Tauranga but Customs NZ says Auckland remains the favoured importing destination despite four local busts in the last 18 months.
Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry said customs officers on risk patrol at the port use their ''intuition'', which leads to arrests.
Berry said Kiwis were willing to ''pay one of the highest prices for drugs anywhere in the world'' which made it an attractive market for South American drug cartels.
''New Zealand had become a viable drug market in its own right. We are seeing a definite increase