Contraband - NZ Customs


Creative drug concealments intercepted

Creative drug concealments intercepted

Drug smugglers continue to come up with creative ways to bring prohibited substances into the country. But with our collaborative intelligence-led approach, use of advanced technology, and the help our smart drug detector dogs, Customs continues to intercept a variety of drugs at the border.

 “Our targeting has been effective in intercepting drugs concealed in ingenious ways,” said Chris Howley, Group Manager, Intelligence, Investigations and Enforcement. “We have seen that in recent years, drug syndicates have become more and more sophisticated in their efforts to conceal prohibited substances. However, our vigilance and collaboration with other border agencies both here and abroad are paying great dividends.”

Last year, Customs intercepted 622 kilograms of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine with potential meth yield of between 125-176 kilos. This is equivalent to a potential harm of about $50.6-70.9 million. This is an increase of about 26% from the previous year when we intercepted 495 kilograms of these precursor drugs representing a potential meth yield of about 100-140 kilograms with potential harm (in millions) of $40-.3 to $56.4 million.


Earlier this year, someone from China attempted to smuggle drugs in sports shoes. Customs officers detected the drug concealment and discovered 266 grams of Ephedrine hidden in the soles of the shoes.

An interception of a shipment from Shanghai showed a mini laptop desk that actually had 188 grams of ephedrine hidden in the table-top.

Another shipment from Shanghai declared as a pillow had 200 grams of Ephedrine mixed loosely with the polystrene granule contents of the pillow.

A pair of jackets loaded with drugs and shipped during the summer was also intercepted by Customs officers. The jackets contained 379 grams of Ephedrine hidden in the lining.

A glass ornament from Thailand was discovered to conceal 201 grams of Meth.  The meth was hidden in the base.

Bottles of the skincare product “Estee Lauder Optimiser” were also intercepted containing liquid Methamphetamine. Sent by man from Hongkong and declared as cosmetic samples, 18 bottles of 200 ml optimisers were seized. 

Other concealments include 602 grams of Ephedrine hidden in the base of a plastic flower vase, 81.7 grams of MMDA/Ecstasy concealed inside a toy trumpet, and 7.8 grams of Meth concealed in tea bag sachets.