Customs has seized more than 700 kilograms of cocaine in a shipping container, breaking the record for a border seizure that was set just two weeks ago.
The container was on board a vessel that left South America in January 2022 and arrived in Tauranga, with Customs officers ready to inspect the consignment.
Customs had already identified the container as a potential risk using "intelligence and targeting indicators".
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The haul is estimated to have a street value of NZ$280 million, according to Customs.
Customs investigation manager Cam Moore said an investigation was under way.
"This extremely significant seizure, the second within two weeks, highlights how transnational organised crime groups are actively trying to exploit New Zealand. They are trying to smuggle drugs to New Zealand on an industrial scale because of the significant profits that can be made, they also want to use New Zealand to access other drug markets," Moore said.
"We are not prepared to let that happen or to let them target those that live here. This seizure shows the successful efforts Customs and its partners are having in their shared focus to disrupt drug smuggling and protecting New Zealand's borders."
Police National Organised Crime Group detective superintendent Greg Williams said "this is another significant seizure and comes on the back of strong international partnerships, information sharing and diligent profiling work by Customs at the borders.
"This would have caused a huge amount of harm in any community it was distributed into. We will work alongside Customs to establish who was responsible for bringing this drug into New Zealand and to hold them accountable".
On March 2, police and Customs seized a shipment of 613kg of methamphetamine, which was at the time the largest ever attempted smuggling of the drug into the country.