Two men have been jailed for their roles in smuggling large amounts of ephedrine with the potential to make $25 million worth of methamphetamine.

The ephedrine was smuggled in furniture and was intercepted by Customs after it was sent by airfreight and in mail consignments.

The shipments included wooden tables with hollow plastic legs, aluminium shelves, and plastic cylinders sent with 'fitness equipment' such as skipping ropes.

Japanese nationals Kentaro Hara, 42, and Kazuki Keino, 49, were both jailed for their roles in the drug smuggling ring, after appearing for sentence at the Manukau District Court on Friday.


Hara, described as a 'drug catcher' by Customs, was jailed for two years and one month for attempted possession of a class b drug.

Keino, the ringleader of the operation, was jailed for nine years and four months for five importation charges.

Two co-offenders, Masaru Iwai and Satoshi Someya were jailed last year for their roles.

An investigation into the smuggling began in January last year after ephedrine weighing more than 33kg was discovered in freight.

Customs said it could have produced up to 25kg of meth, with a street value of up to $25 million.

Customs Manager Investigations Bruce Berry says the four offenders were part of an elaborate set-up to import the precursor drugs to different addresses in Auckland, collect it, and then supply it to their networks to turn into methamphetamine.

"Customs targets all drug shipments - whatever the commodity or country it's from. We may not always act immediately, as our main aim is using seizure information to build a bigger intelligence picture and take down the entire drug syndicate. This is a good result."

If you have suspicions about someone who may be smuggling drugs by getting it delivered to unsuspecting addresses, call 0800 4 CUSTOMS in confidence or Crimestoppers.