AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Customs and Police in New Zealand have seized 35 kg (77 lbs) of cocaine stuffed inside a large diamond-encrusted horse’s head that was mailed from Mexico.
The $10 million discovery, the largest cocaine seizure made in New Zealand, came in May when the 400 kg air freight package was delivered to an address in Auckland where police were carrying out surveillance.
“There is a significant organized crime group offshore that will be responsible for this and who have now lost a whole lot of money,” Detective Superintendent Virginia Le Bas told a New Zealand television station.
The drugs, packaged into 35 bricks, were pushed up inside a cavity in the horse’s neck before being mounted on its stand.
A 44-year-old Mexican man and 56-year-old U.S. man were arrested in relation to the smuggling attempt as they tried to board a flight to Hawaii on Friday, police said.
A third man, from Mexico, was arrested following searches at an apartment block in Christchurch on Saturday.
Importing cocaine in New Zealand can carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
It is the second major drug haul by New Zealand authorities in less than four weeks after 494 kg of methamphetamines were found on the north coast last month.