Operation Ghost drugs bust linked to Tonga

A Tongan freight company and premises in Auckland were some of the many targets police busted for drugs after more than 260kg of drugs used to cook methamphetamine were found hidden in a shipping container on Dec 15.

Ezi World Cargo Ltd’s director Mosese Uele told Kakalu ‘o Tonga newspaper police searched his premises and office.

They left and his office continued on its normal working hours and no charges laid against him and his company, he said.

It is understood police also searched premises of other Tongans in Auckland during their drug raids.

Through Operation Ghost detectives from the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), working alongside Customs Officers, intercepted a significant consignment of ContacNT and ephedrine, police statement says.

Police did not say where the shipment came from but Kaniva understands the seizure and the searches made in Auckland had link to other Tongans and Chinese in Tonga.

248 kilograms of Pseudoephedrine commonly referred to as ContacNT and 16 kilograms of pure Ephedrine both of which are Class B Controlled drugs and precursors used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, were discovered when a container ship arrived at Ports of Auckland on Sunday morning Dec 15.

Detective Inspector Bruce Good of OFCANZ said the consignment was big enough to produce methamphetamine with a street value of approximately $72 million.

“The ContacNT was disguised as legitimately imported commercial goods,” Mr Good said.

“The intelligence gathered during Operation Ghost was critical in assisting Police and Customs identify the importation and it’s whereabouts within the consignment.”

Earlier this month OFCANZ began the termination phase of Operation Ghost, an 18 month intensive multi-agency investigation which focused on a group of senior Asian organised crime figures operating in New Zealand.

Prior to the seizure of this 264 kilograms over 330 kilograms of ContacNT, 15.5 ounces of methamphetamine and approximately $1.5 million of cash have already been seized during Operation Ghost. Over $20 million worth of assets have also restrained during the investigation.

In total Operation Ghost has yielded 594 kilograms, or over half a tonne, of pseudoephedrine during the investigation.

“While we were confident our intelligence was accurate it was still a huge relief when we opened the shipping container at the Customs inspection facility and the drugs were discovered,” Mr Good said.

ContacNT is manufactured legally in China but it is a class B controlled drug in New Zealand.

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