Two years’ jail for man who imported drugs hidden in batteries and chopsticks

Press Release – New Zealand Customs Service

As a result of a Customs sting, a 20 year old Auckland man was sentenced in the Manukau District Court today to two years and one month’ imprisonment for importing over 3.4 kilograms of ContacNT concealed inside batteries and metal chopsticks.

ContacNT is commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine or ‘P’. This amount would have yielded between $418,000 to $1.26 million worth of this harmful drug.

Customs Manager Investigations, Mark Day, says Customs focuses its efforts to disrupt the methamphetamine supply chain and catch the people involved.

Hang Qi Yan pleaded guilty to two importation charges in March this year. The multiple importations and quantities suggest connections with organised criminal networks.

“Products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are virtually impossible to source locally, so criminals try to import these drugs from overseas, mainly China where ContacNT is easily available,” Mr Day says.

“Customs has a strong relationship with Chinese authorities and we are working with them to curb pharmaceuticals containing precursors being sent to New Zealand,” says Mr Day.

“Criminals are always trying new and inventive ways to these conceal drugs — it can’t be easy to hide ContacNT granules inside chopsticks, but someone has put a lot of effort into doing so. Our frontline officers are always on the lookout for things that seem out of the ordinary.”

Customs officers intercepted a package sent from China in November 2011 that was declared to contain ‘metal buttons’. Instead of buttons, Customs officers discovered over one hundred packets of flat circular batteries with a gram of granules concealed inside each battery. This added up to one kilo of ContacNT.

In November 2012, Customs officers questioned Yan in relation to another package from China containing two boxes of metal chopsticks. Officers found ContacNT granules inside each chopstick, totalling close to 2.4 kilos. Yan was arrested by Customs officers when he tried to leave the country a few days later.

Importation of a Class B controlled drug carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.


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