Contraband - NZ Customs


Drugs smuggled in everyday items

Drugs in everyday items

Criminals are increasingly using everyday items in an attempt to smuggle illicit drugs into New Zealand. 

Customs Group Manager Intelligence, Investigations and Enforcement , Jamie Bamford says drug syndicates are trying all sorts of stuff to conceal and smuggle drugs into the country. At first glance one wouldn’t think they have got drugs in them because they look like your ordinary everyday items. But upon closer examination and screening, our officers discover illegal drugs hidden in them.”

According to Bamford, Customs’ collaboration with other border security organisations both locally and internationally, together with intelligence, targeting, the use of technology, our frontline staff and help from fantastic detector dogs all contribute to Customs’ capability to intercept these illicit substances and prevent them from coming into New Zealand.

Last year, Customs saw a significant increase in the volume of methamphetamine intercepted at the border. As at November 2015, over 258 kilograms of meth were seized, which is more than triple the total volume of 82 kgs intercepted in 2014. 


Here are some samples of concealments:

A scooter shipped from Canada to Christchurch was found to be stuffed with 57 grams of Ecstasy (MDMA).

A helmet concealed 900 grams of the precursor drug Ephedrine used to manufacture methamphetamine. The helmet was sent from China to Auckland.

A shipment from Bangkok to South Auckland looked like a normal electric lawn mower but Customs officers found six black packages containing 201 grams of meth hidden in the spaces around the motor (see image below).

A sausage warmer sent from China to a North Shore address in Auckland contained 925 grams of ephedrine.

Meanwhile, a two wooden handicraft items sent from Shanghai to East Auckland had 554 grams of ephedrine concealed in its base.

A box full of wine racks was found to conceal 969 grams of ephedrine shipped from China to an Auckland address.    

Fourteen grams of meth were found inside a travel steamer.

Other concealments included hand warmers which had 495 grams of Ephedrine.

A lamp was found with 496 grams of ephedrine hidden in it.

A cake mixing machine contained 275 grams of methamphetamine

Even children’s whiteboards were not spared by drug smugglers tucking in 495 grams of meth in 10 whiteboards.

A package from Thailand declared as shoes was found to contain 178 grams of meth concealed within the walls of the cardboard box.

Another shipment from Malaysia declared as ‘baby stuff’ turned out to be sanitary pads containing 1,024 grams of meth.