Sydney man arrested in record drug bust
A Sydney man has been arrested in New Zealand's largest-ever cocaine bust.
The 41-year-old Alfords Point resident was taken into custody today after officers discovered 190kg of the drug inside containers of bananas arriving in Auckland from Panama earlier in the year, New Zealand Police say.
Detective Inspector Paul Newman said the drugs had been found in five duffel bags when the shipment from Balboa arrived in August, after a tip-off from an investigation into an Australian-based organised crime group by the Australian Federal Police.
The bust is a staggering find for police in New Zealand, where a 46kg cocaine seizure in the North Island town of Tauranga last year was the previous largest find.
The AFP said the drugs had been destined for Australia and allege the man was attempting to collect about 57kg of substituted cocaine.
He was taken into custody in the Sydney CBD and surrendered to police after searches of homes in Alfords Point and Wiley Park.
The man appeared in the Sydney Central Local Court today and is due to return in January.
Police said they were still looking into other possible recipients. Before a series of large seizures in recent years, New Zealand officers had historically only stopped about 250 grams of cocaine in an average year. The country is sometimes used as a stop-off for smugglers, rather than a final destination.
In 2016, Kiwi police intercepted 35kg of the drug inside a 400kg, jewel-covered statue of a horse head that had arrived by plane from Mexico.