The Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ) are warning the public to remain wary of online scams after a 68 year-old New Zealander was recruited by a drug ring led by Nigerian expatriates.
The Auckland man flew to Papua New Guinea in early November believing he was going to receive a large amount of cash. He left Port Moresby five days later with 1.5 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed inside two bags he had been given.
Detective Senior Sergeant Lloyd Schmid said the drugs, which have a street value of $1.5 million dollars, were discovered by Customs officers who profiled the man on his return at Auckland International Airport.
A five week joint OFCANZ and NZ Customs Service identified two further importations of Methamphetamine totalling over 1.2 kilograms and valued at $1.2 million.
“The Methamphetamine had been sent to New Zealand through the international mail system from the Philippines and Cameroon,” Mr Schmid said.
On 5 December, Detectives from OFCANZ and Customs officers executed eight search warrants across the greater Auckland Region and in Woodville.
Ten suspects have been arrested and face a raft of charges including importing Class A controlled drugs and possession of Class A controlled drugs for supply
Mr Schmid said the leaders of this drug ring were Nigerian expatriates based in Auckland and Woodville.
“This investigation demonstrates that the New Zealand drug market is being targeted by organised crime syndicates from every corner of the globe,” Mr Schmid said.
“This is another example of New Zealand agencies working together to generate a positive outcome”
Customs Manager Investigations, Maurice O’Brien says the case should serve as a reminder that people travelling overseas should never carry luggage that doesn’t belong to them.
“New Zealand travellers should remain vigilant at all times in respect of their personal security and that of their luggage,” Mr O’Brien said.
Detective Senior Sergeant Aaron Pascoe, from the Auckland Financial Crime Unit, who regularly deals with scam victims said once victims stop sending money they are often contacted by criminals pretending to be law enforcement officers.
“The scammers then advise that the victim’s money has been recovered and that they should travel overseas to collect it,” Mr Pascoe said. “In this way the scammers continue to have influence over their victims.”
“The public need to remember that if an investment or other financial matter sounds too good to be true it more than likely will be’.
The Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ) targets, investigates, and disrupts individuals and groups involved in organised crime in New Zealand and trans-nationally. Established in 2008 OFCANZ also leads, coordinates and contributes to policy or legislative changes to make it harder for organised criminals to operate in New Zealand. In addition OFCANZ works with the private sector to reduce the opportunities for organised crime and raises public awareness of organised crime and the harm it causes to New Zealanders.
For more information contact Kevin Sinnott on 021 192 2917