A New Zealand-American citizen has been sentenced for her role as the head of a syndicate that smuggled methamphetamine into the country from Hawaii by concealing it inside women's bodies.
The methamphetamine had been hidden in double-layered condoms, weighing about 224 grams, with a street value between $44,800-$224,000.
Shimaine Riviere, 49, was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court to a prison sentence of three-and-a-half years for organising two female associates to smuggle methamphetamine from Hawaii in December 2015.
Both of the women who smuggled the drug were sentenced to home detention in late 2016 and early 2017.
Customs began to investigate Riviere in October 2015 after developing an intelligence profile that identified her as someone who was likely to attempt to smuggle methamphetamine using internal couriers.
Her two associates left for Hawaii in mid-December 2015, and Customs officers were waiting when they returned through Auckland International Airport a week later.
A baggage and body search did not reveal any drugs, but it was determined they were both concealing the methamphetamine internally.
Customs arrested Riviere at Christchurch International Airport when she arrived from Los Angeles in February 2016 after the investigation established she had organised the smuggling and was the head of the syndicate.
Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry said while travellers internally concealing drugs is not an everyday event, Customs was well aware of the lengths drug traffickers will go to and are always vigilant.
"While 240 grams isn't a particularly large quantity of drugs, this case showcases the strength of Customs' intelligence work, our investigations that led to the dismantling of a drug smuggling syndicate.
"There are obvious health risks associated with this method of concealment and internal drug couriers put their lives in danger. If one of the packages were to burst, it would be fatal."