New Zealand seizes record amount of meth in maple syrup jugs from Canada

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When New Zealand police cracked open plastic jugs of maple syrup that had arrived from Canada, they found something decidedly less sweet inside.

Instead of the sticky condiment, the jugs contained around $150 million worth of methamphetamine – making it the country’s biggest ever meth bust.

The shipment was intercepted in January after authorities in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada uncovered the elaborate scheme as part of an initiative dubbed “Operation Regis,” said New Zealand police in a statement Thursday.

The 713 kilograms (1,572 pounds) of meth had been bound for Australia, New Zealand and the surrounding Pacific region, said the statement.

After police seized most of the drugs, they arrested five men between ages 22 to 45 near the town of Helensville, north of Auckland. A sixth man, age 28, was later arrested when he tried to receive the remaining drugs, police said.

The six men are due to reappear in court, though the statement did not specify when.

The statement said a number of local arrests had also been made in Melbourne, Australia, involving people allegedly responsible for multiple drug import attempts, including the maple syrup shipment halted at the New Zealand border.

The investigation was launched after Canadian authorities found a “staggering” amount of meth inside bottles of canola oil that had been on route to Australia.

“The international drug trade and organized crime groups are creating havoc and harm in communities around the globe, and our best opportunity to disrupt, intercept, and keep our communities safe, is to work collaboratively with other agencies, and other nations,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said in the statement.

The seizure comes just a few months after another record-breaking bust, in which New Zealand authorities discovered more than 3 tons of cocaine floating in the ocean. The cocaine packages, buoyed by flotation devices, weighed 3.2 metric tons (3.5 short tons) and were valued at more than half a billion New Zealand dollars (about $318 million).


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