AUCKLAND, New Zealand, July 3 (UPI) — New Zealand police’s record cocaine haul was found inside a diamond-encrusted statue of a horse’s head.
A shipment of 35 bricks weighing 77 pounds and worth an estimated street value of $10 million was air-freighted from Mexico to Auckland in May.
A 56-year-old American and two Mexicans, 44 and 26, were arrested this past weekend after a six-week joint police and customs investigation. They were charged with importing a Class A drug, which is punishable by life imprisonment, as well as possession of that type of drug.
Two of the men were arrested Saturday at Auckland International Airport and were bound for Hawaii.
The horse head weighed 882 pounds and was 3 feet tall.
“This is obviously an extremely large amount of cocaine, and in the past we’ve only found very small amounts of this drug,” says Detective Senior Sgt. Colin Parmenter, officer in charge of organized crime in Auckland. “Prior to this, the average amount of cocaine seized by police each year was around 250 grams. What this find tells us though is that there is obviously a demand for it. While it’s possible that this statue may have been sent on to another country, but there’s every possibility that the cocaine was destined for the New Zealand market and we would be naive to think otherwise.”
One month earlier in New Zealand’s previous biggest drug seizure, $354 million worth of methamphetamine was discovered after a boat was found abandoned on Ninety Mile Beach.