Israeli trio sentenced for carrying $3.6m MDMA crystals
Three Israeli men were sentenced in the Manukau District Court this afternoon for trying to smuggle large packs of MDMA in their false bottom suitcases at the start of the year.
Victor Borisenko, Vladislav Pischako, and Guy Shalom – all aged in their mid-twenties – were convicted for importing a Class B controlled drug and were each sentenced to 8 years and 3 months in prison.
The trio arrived at Auckland Airport from Singapore on 3 January 2017, with x-rays and scrutiny revealing packs of MDMA crystals hidden under wooden false bottoms of their three suitcases.
The 8.7kg total, with the purity level of around 77%, had an estimated street value of up to $3.6 million. The price of MDMA or ecstasy in New Zealand is amongst the highest in the world, which makes smuggling a lucrative business for criminal syndicates or opportunists.
Customs Manager Passenger Operations at Auckland Airport Peter Lewis says the result is a great example of vigilance at the border that shows while the summer season is always a busy time at international airports, this does not mean criminals can hide in the crowds.
“Criminal syndicates may think they can get away by sending drug couriers during peak travel times because Customs is focused on clearing passengers. While this is true for our legitimate travellers – we wear two hats and are just as focused on catching criminals.”
“The methods Customs uses, both at the frontline and behind the scenes, and our partnerships with border agencies – such as the Ministry for Primary Industries in this case – means there is every chance they will get caught.”