Two people have been arrested as Customs seized 100kg of methamphetamine with a street value of up to $50 million.
The Australian men, in their mid-20s, were scheduled to appear in the Auckland District Court today charged with importing and possessing between 70kg and 100kg of methamphetamine, hidden inside plastic storage pallets.
Based on the New Zealand Drug Harm Index, the seizure has prevented an estimated $86 million to $124m of social and community harm.
If the quantity of methamphetamine had been sold, in per gram amounts, it would have had a street value of between $35 million and $50m.
The two men arrived at Auckland Airport in June 2019.
Although their arrival cards stated they were visiting the country for a short time, Customs investigators allegedly established the men had rented a storage unit.
Yesterday, Customs investigators carried out multiple search warrants, with the assistance of NZ Police, at the storage unit and where the men were staying.
The search of the storage unit allegedly located 142 black and green plastic storage pallets and evidence of drug extraction from within the pallets.
During the search, two plastic pallets were allegedly found partially disassembled, with compressed methamphetamine visible in hidden compartments.
The search of the West Auckland home of one of the arrested men allegedly located an estimated $50,000 cash, hidden inside a dishwasher and inside a backpack.
The search of a hotel room in central Auckland, where the second arrested man was staying, allegedly located keys to the storage unit.
Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry said the investigation and seizure was the result of analysing intelligence information about how some drug syndicates operate.
"It is not unusual for foreign nationals to arrive into the country, solely for the purpose of facilitating drug shipments," Berry said.
"This seizure and the arrests are an example of some very good intelligence and investigative work, and we acknowledge the assistance of NZ Police.
"The concealment method was quite sophisticated and not easily identifiable. We are still in process of completing the methamphetamine extraction to confirm the weight and purity.
"We already know that a significant amount of methamphetamine is involved, and Customs is very pleased to have stopped it from reaching the streets and harming our communities."