Three young foreigners charged with drug smuggling in New Zealand

WELLINGTON — New Zealand Customs officers have arrested three young foreign nationals after finding illegal drugs with a street value of 5 million NZ dollars (USD3.56 million) in false-bottomed suitcases at the Auckland Airport.

The three men — all aged 24 — were arrested on arrival from Singapore last week after X-rays led to the discovery of 12 kg. MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), commonly known as ecstasy crystals, hidden in the suitcases.

The find was made as Customs officers stepped up profiling of visitors and cooperation with other agencies during the peak travel season over the southern summer, Customs investigations manager Maurice O’Brien said in a statement Friday.

“Meth (methamphetamine) is still the main choice for drug couriers and like meth, New Zealand’s price for MDMA is amongst the highest in the world, making us an attractive market for criminals,” said O’Brien.

The three men — whose nationalities were not disclosed — are scheduled to reappear in court in Auckland on Jan. 27 on charges of importing an illegal drug.

They face a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. PNA/