In the Auckland High Court, a Mexican national has been sentenced to 10 years and 7 months for his part in smuggling 113 kg of methamphetamine. The drugs were concealed in a shipment of avocado pulp. Victor Manuel Iglesias Martos arrived in New Zealand from Mexico via San Francisco in April 2019.
Customs investigations unearthed that in the previous months, he had been in contact with a Mexican-based freight forwarder, and they had negotiated with an Auckland-based fresh produce importer about importing avocado pulp into New Zealand. Investigations showed this fresh produce importer was not implicated in the smuggling operation.
Evidence also showed Martos had studied aspects of the avocado industry in Mexico, including taking several photos of avocado pulp production and bags of packaged avocado pulp.
On 27 March 2019, a consignment of frozen avocado pulp was imported via airfreight from Mexico and addressed to a company in Auckland without any drugs, as a trial run.
A second consignment of frozen avocado pulp was imported via airfreight from Mexico on 30 March 2019, and sent to a different Auckland address. Customs officers carried out an examination of the 13 polystyrene boxes containing ice packets and sachets of avocado puree, and found these boxes had false bottom compartments. Those compartments hid eight packets of methamphetamine wrapped in brown packaging tape. Approximately 113 kilograms of methamphetamine was retrieved.