Contraband - NZ Customs

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Ruckus wrap-up

Operation Ruckus wraps up 

Jail terms for three men brought Operation Ruckus to a close in December 2015. In total, eight men from Hamilton and Auckland were convicted during the operation, dismantling a drug syndicate involved in importing the meth precursor, Contac NT, into the country. 

In late July 2013, Customs officers seized a builder’s spirit level hiding just over 800 grams of Contac NT. A laptop bag seized a couple of weeks later contained around 1.7 kilograms of the same drug. Another six laptop bags concealing similar drug quantities were seized between August and October, as well as lint rollers hiding 900 grams — Operation Ruckus was on a roll.

Customs investigators, after linking the imports, carried out a controlled delivery at a Hamilton home and arrested a catcher and two organisers. A search warrant at a different Hamilton home led to the arrest of two more catchers and another organiser.

One of the catchers was also linked to four separate imports of ecstasy (51 tablets) hidden in packets, a greeting card and chewing gum that were purchased online via the (now-defunct) illegal website Silk Road, and seized by Customs in April 2013.

Operation Ruckus didn’t stop here, enquiries continued. Two Auckland men operating separately, at a much higher level within the drug network, were soon connected to the case. One man (believed to be the leader) was arrested following a search of his Remuera home and business – a karaoke club on Queen Street. The other man was arrested at his Queen Street workplace.  

Customs’ lead investigator on Operation Ruckus was asked about the operation and the criminals involved. Here’s what he said:
 

“After a couple of interceptions by our frontline officers, we started looking a lot closer and Operation Ruckus snowballed.

It’s a complicated network – they’re not seasoned criminals, most of them. Usually they’re opportunists who want to make some quick cash and don’t think it’s a big deal. The longer they carry on offending the more they think they won’t get caught. It was really rewarding to get them all. Our prosecutor also did a superb job through court proceedings that led to these results."

The eight seizures totaling 11.4 kg of Contac NT could have yielded up to 3.4 kilograms of methamphetamine, worth around $3.4 million. Customs often talks about its commitment to disrupting the drug supply chain and dismantling the criminal network behind these imports. Ruckus is a great example that showcases exactly what these words mean.

Report suspicious behaviour to Customs on 0800 4 CUSTOMS (0800 428 786) or Crime Stoppers.

  • Two main offenders, aged 44 and 32, were sentenced to 7 years’ and 6 years’ imprisonment respectively on 10 December 2015.
  • Three organisers, aged between 23 and 33, were sentenced to jail terms between 2 and 3 years in 2014.
  • Two of the catchers, aged 23 and 38, were sentenced to home detention in 2014.
  • One catcher, 22, who had been buying other drugs online ‘on the side’, was given a jail term of 2 years and 7 months on 17 December 2015.