Inside a Sparkly Horse Head, NZ's Biggest Coke Bust Ever

$14M worth of cocaine found crammed into statue's neck in Auckland
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2016 3:01 PM CDT
Inside a Sparkly Horse Head, NZ's Biggest Coke Bust Ever
Wow.   (New Zealand Police)

Go big or go home—or, in the case of a bunch of drug smugglers nailed in what New Zealand is calling its biggest drug bust ever, to the big house (aka prison). Per the BBC, New Zealand police found 77 pounds worth of cocaine bricks—with a street value of up to $14 million, according to the New Zealand Herald—crammed into a most-unusual vessel: a sequin-adorned statue of a horse's head. The head, which the Guardian describes as a "less than inconspicuous sculpture" that weighed nearly 900 pounds and concealed the coke bricks in the base of its neck, was intercepted by New Zealand cops and customs officials after being shipped from Mexico to Auckland in May. "This is a significant win for New Zealand," a head detective says. "We should be proud to have detected it at the earliest of stages."

Cops have already arrested two Mexicans, ages 29 and 44, and a 56-year-old American and are now trying to determine if Auckland was meant to be the final stop or if the horse head and its powdery cargo were supposed to go to another destination. A Massey University researcher speculates the coke may have been meant for the country's east coast. The Guardian notes that cocaine finding its way into New Zealand is an uncommon occurrence due to meticulous border control and because it's far from most major overseas drug markets. "What this find tells us … is that there is obviously a demand for it," a senior sergeant says, per a press release. "While it's possible that this statue may have been sent on to another country … there's every possibility that the cocaine was destined for the New Zealand market and we would be naive to think otherwise." All three suspects are facing charges of importing and possession for supply of a Class A drug, which could lead to life in prison. (Colombia recently had its biggest coke bust ever.)

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