A Hong Kong man could face life in a New Zealand prison after Customs officers seized drugs worth 20 million NZ dollars (14.34 million U.S. dollars) being smuggled in sets of spatulas.
New Zealand Customs officers had arrested the 23-year-old man on Monday and he appeared in the Auckland District Court on Tuesday, said a statement from the New Zealand Customs service.
Customs officers intercepted an air cargo shipment from Hong Kong of 80 boxes of 24-piece spatula sets at the end of July, said the statement.
Each set came with a 250-gram methamphetamine packet hidden under the box, totaling approximately 20 kilograms.
Customs investigators linked the shipment to the Hong Kong passport-holder, who had arrived in the country in May on a visitor's visa, and arrested him at a home in Auckland.
"He now faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment," said the statement.
Customs investigations manager Maurice O'Brien said it was another significant seizure that involved an ever-changing method of concealment, which Customs targeting systems and people located.
"Customs places a lot of emphasis on understanding the international supply chain and works closely with international enforcement partners around the world to not only cause disruption through individual seizures, but also dismantle the syndicates who are involved," O'Brien said in the statement.
"These relationships work well and are absolutely necessary for dismantling syndicates and providing interception capability off-shore to tackle the root of the supply chain."