According to a number of international media reports, police in Algeria have seized around 165kg of cocaine concealed in a shipping container of Fonterra-manufactured powdered milk imported by the state-run National Inter Professional Office for Milk (ONIL).
NZ Customs Service confirmed that it is aware of reports that police in the country discovered a large amount of cocaine in a shipment of Fonterra milk powder, but it is yet to be able to verify the reports.
It added, however, that it is working with Fonterra in an effort to pinpoint where the illegal cargo was added to the container.
In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com, NZ Customs Service group manager of trade and marine Paul Campbell said that there is no evidence to suggest that any illegal substances were concealed in the container before it left New Zealand.
The statement added that the cargo was unloaded and reloaded in Panama and in Valencia, Spain.
“Fonterra is a trusted trade and is part of Custom’s Secure Export Scheme,” said Campbell.
The Secure Exports Scheme is designed to give New Zealand exporters greater certainty at international borders by minimising Customs delays. The purpose of the scheme is to protect NZ exports from being tampered with, sabotaged, smuggled, or subjected to other trans-national crimes.
“Containers are sealed when they are packed, and the seal assures that the container has not been breached until it is loaded onto a ship,” said Campbell.
“We have engaged our attaché in Brussels and he will be working to establish the facts.”
“Customs has very high confidence in the integrity of New Zealand exports,” Campbell added.