Cocaine seized from inside diamante-encrusted horse head in New Zealand

New Zealand Customs and Police say they have seized 35 kilogrammes of cocaine brought into the country inside a diamante-encrusted horse head.

“There is a significant organised crime group offshore that will be responsible for this and who have now lost a whole lot of money,” said National Organised Crime Manager, Detective Superintendent Virginia Le Bas in Auckland on Saturday (July 2).

The discovery was made in May with the airfreight package delivered to an address in Auckland where police were carrying out surveillance.

On Friday (July 1), TVNZ reported that two suspects, a 44-year-old Mexican and a 56-year-old American man, were arrested by police trying to board a flight to Hawaii. Following searches at an apartment block in Christchurch on Saturday, a third man from Mexico was also arrested.

The drugs, packaged into 35 bricks weighing about a kilo each, were pushed up inside a cavity in the horse’s neck before being mounted on its stand. “There are a number of indicators that made us take a deeper look at the consignment, and then a number of methodologies that we used to identify the drugs hidden inside the horse’s head,” said New Zealand Customs Group Manager Jamie Bamford.

According to TVNZ the drugs haul is worth an estimated USD $10 million.

“It quite a reassuring discovery, I think, for us to see that basically our defences can identify drugs of whatever substance they might be,” he added.

According to local media, this is the second major drug haul by New Zealand authorities in less than four weeks.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016