Cocaine haul worth £7.5m discovered inside diamante-encrusted horse head in New Zealand

The haul is the largest-ever recorded in New Zealand and has been linked to new demand from workers involved in rebuilding the city of Christchurch

Rachael Pells
Sunday 03 July 2016 16:30 BST
Cops bust cocaine Trojan Horse

Police in New Zealand have seized a record-breaking haul of cocaine smuggled inside a giant diamante-encrusted horse head from Mexico.

Officers discovered the Class A drug in the form of 35 1kg bricks stored inside the 400kg sculpture, which was headed to an address in Auckland.

The haul is the largest the country has ever recorded and has a street market value of around NZ$14m (£7.5m).

Detective Superintendent Virginia Le Bas, from the organised crime unit, said officers were still working to establish the final destination of the haul.

“This is a significant win for New Zealand,” she said. “This is a great success, we should be proud to have detected it at the earliest of stages.”

The drug shipment had been air-freighted from Mexico to Auckland where it was detected inside the horse-head statue in May.

Two men have been arrested in connection with the crime following a six-week police investigation. One is a 44-year-old Mexican and the other is 56 and from the US.

They have been charged with importing a Class A drug and possession for supply of a Class A drug, namely cocaine, and appeared in the Manukau District Court on Saturday morning.

New Zealand police said a third man, also from Mexico, was arrested on Saturday in Christchurch following a series of house-searches.

It is believed at least some of the drug was destined for Christchurch, which has attracted workers from around the world since the rebuilding of the city in 2011.

Before this 35kg haul, the average amount of cocaine seized at New Zealand borders each year was around 250 grams.

Ms Le Bas said some people in Christchurch were using the drug and the rebuild had created a change in demand for some illicit substances.

Drug researcher Chris Wilkins, from Massey University, told reporters the drug may also have been destined for Australia where demand was high Sydney and Melbourne.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in