Revealed: Drug barons are using Airbnbs to help smuggle huge shipments of meth – and the warning signs property owners need to watch out for
- New Zealand Customs Officials discovered a shipment of 469kg of meth
- Airbnb properties were used by drug smugglers associated with the drug bust
- Homeowners have been warned about signs their house are used by smugglers
Overseas nationals have been travelling to New Zealand and hiring Airbnbs to receive and distribute large drug shipments of methamphetamine.
Custom officials had their largest meth haul in August when they discovered a shipment of 469kg of the drug stashed inside 60 electric motors from Thailand.
Airbnb properties were used in the smuggling operation and homeowners have been warned to look out for signs their property could be used by global drug syndicates.
Custom officials had their largest meth haul in August after they discovered a shipment of 469kg of the drug stashed inside 60 electric motors from Thailand
These include the arrival of sports equipment such as golf carts or electric motors, bookings coming from a third party, payments in cash, and people seeking to rent premises for long periods.
Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry said the use of Airbnbs by drug smugglers is becoming a common practice.
‘It’s a known international trend for overseas nationals to come into the country just to receive and distribute drug shipments,’ Mr Berry said.
‘They use storage units or commercial premises and hire homes on Airbnb as part of their illegal activity.’
Mr Berry noted some New Zealanders who rented their homes to a drug smuggler via Airbnb later told custom officials they noticed unusual aspects of the booking or the guests.
He said Airbnb hosts with these concerns don’t usually warn officials but they need to contact authorities if they have any suspicions.
Airbnb properties were used in the illegal drug smuggling operation and homeowners have been warned to look out for signs their property could be used by global drug syndicates
An Airbnb spokesperson said the reports of drug smugglers using their service is something they take seriously.
‘Airbnb has absolutely zero tolerance for illegal drugs and activity and takes the recent reports extremely seriously,’ a spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Our strict policies ban anyone found to be affiliated with a dangerous organisation from being on our platform. We have a global team who work hard to support local law enforcement and their investigations.
‘To help protect our community from fraud and other security issues, we prohibit offline or cash payments.
‘We urge our hosts to be alert and we encourage them to notify us if they see something suspicious, like a guest asking to pay a host offline or in cash.
Warning signs include the arrival of sports equipment such as golf cars or electric motors, bookings coming from a third party, payments in cash, and people seeking a long period of time to rent a premise (stock image)
The weight of meth allegedly uncovered by customs officials in the August 26 seizure made up roughly half of New Zealand’s total consumption of the drug.
It is estimated to have a street value of $235million.
Three men appeared in the Auckland District Court on Friday where they faced drugs and weapons charges.
The men are two Canadian nationals and a New Zealander.
‘This seizure has disrupted a significant amount of drugs from reaching communities, and has deprived organised crime groups off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of profits,’ Mr Berry said.
‘Customs will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies here and offshore, as well as industry partners, individuals and businesses, to target shipments and syndicates.’