N. Zealand police uncover cocaine in bejeweled horse-head | News | DW | 03.07.2016
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N. Zealand police uncover cocaine in bejeweled horse-head

New Zealand police have seized a record-breaking amount of cocaine from a diamante-encrusted horse head sculpture. The shipment worth millions had been air-freighted from Mexico.

Police discovered 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of cocaine in a horse-head sculpture covered in glittering diamante rhinestones, New Zealand authorities said on Sunday.

The uncovered cocaine was worth an estimated NZ$14 million (US$10 million, 9 million euros).

"This is a significant win for New Zealand," Detective Superintendent Virginia Le Bas said. "This is a great success, we should be proud to have detected it at the earliest of stages."

Le Bas added that they are still trying to establish the drug haul's final destination. The horse-head sculpture had been air-freighted from Mexico to Auckland before being detected in May.

So far, three people have been arrested in connection with the shipment. A Mexican and a US-American were detained over the weekend as they prepared to fly to Hawaii, while another Mexican was detained in Christchurch.

On Sunday, authorities asked for help from the public to identify a fourth, Spanish-speaking man who they say may be a witness or a suspect.

Police believe some of the drugs were en route to the city of Christchurch, which is being rebuilt after the devastating earthquake in 2011. The rebuild has attracted workers from all over the world and, according to Le Bas, has created a new demand for some illegal substances.

The record-breaking drug bust was the largest-ever haul in New Zealand. Prior to the bust, police uncovered an average of 250 grams of cocaine per year.

rs/bk (AFP, dpa)

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