Wednesday 31st October 2012
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Fonterra Cooperative Group is trying to verify media reports that 165 kilograms of drugs have been found in one of its containers in Algeria.
Agence France-Presse reported that the massive haul was one of the largest ever intercepted in the North African country. The New Zealand Customs Service is also trying to establish the facts, while expressing confidence that the drugs did not come from New Zealand.
Customs said it was aware of Algerian media reports that a significant quantity of an illegal drug, either cocaine or heroin, had been found in a shipment of milk powder in Algeria.
Customs had not been able to verify the reports and was working closely with Fonterra.
Fonterra was waiting to hear which Algerian authority was investigating and it was on standby to provide any information required.
Fonterra is the largest exporter of dairy products in the world.
Customs group manager trade and marine, Paul Campbell, said there was no evidence to suggest that any illegal substances were introduced into the container before it left New Zealand.
The cargo was unloaded and reloaded in Panama and Valencia, Spain.
"We have engaged our attaché in Brussels and he will be working to establish the facts," Campbell said.
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