A gap year student was sentenced to 12 months home detention and 200 hours community work after importing almost 2.5kg of class C drugs.

David Dunstan, 19, appeared in Hamilton District Court on Friday, charged with importing materials from China to make drugs like ecstasy and LSD.

He was arrested and charged last October after Customs intercepted a number of packages from China containing the substances, including 25-NBOME, bk-MDMA or methylone, 2-C1, and Methoxy-DALT.

The packages, which were sent between August and October 2013, were labelled as skin care products or cosmetic samples.

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"Importing by mail or freight and labelling them as something else doesn't mean that these drugs will go undetected," Customs manager of border operations, Shane Panettiere, said.

"Regardless of the method of disguise during importation, Customs is committed to stopping these illicit substances crossing the border and harming our communities.

"Customs examines a wide range of powders and liquids, and items are not released unless we are absolutely certain they are legitimate. Offences will be investigated, those involved will be caught and prosecuted."

Dunstan had been the sole importer of the drugs, but had used the addresses of acquaintances to receive packages, Customs found. The acquaintances were unaware of the contents of the packages and handed them over to Dunstan.