A New Zealand court sentenced three Israelis to prison Thursday for attempting to smuggle drugs into the country.
Victor Borisenko, Vladislav Pischako and Guy Shalom were each sentenced to eight years and three months for bringing $2.5 million worth of MDMA crystals, or ecstasy, into the country, New Zealand’s Stuff news site reported.
The three, all in their mid-twenties, flew to Auckland on January 3 from Singapore. X-ray scans at the airport revealed the 8.7 kilograms (19 pounds) of drugs hidden beneath wooden false bottoms in their suitcases.
Peter Lewis, customs manager at Auckland Airport, warned others not to try bringing drugs into the country.
“Criminal syndicates may think they can get away by sending drug couriers during peak travel times because Customs is focused on clearing passengers,” he said. “While this is true for our legitimate travelers – we wear two hats and are just as focused on catching criminals.”
New Zealand has one of the highest street values for ecstasy in the world, tempting smugglers, Lewis said.