New Zealand’s largest cocaine haul ever was uncovered in an unusual place: inside an 881-pound diamante-encrusted horse.
Authorities in New Zealand said Saturday that contained within the sculpture’s glittery head, which arrived from Mexico in May, were 35 bricks of high-grade cocaine worth nearly $11 million U.S..
Two unidentified men — a 56-year-old U.S. national and a 44-year-old Mexican national —were arrested Friday night at Auckland International Airport, police said in a statement.
Additional search warrants were being executed in Christchurch, the statement said, and Sunday, police released surveillance video of a man "with a Spanish-sounding accent" who may be connected to the operation.
Detective Sgt. Colin Parmenter said the amount of cocaine seized in a typical year in New Zealand is 250 grams, or about half a pound — a statistic crushed by the sculpture.
"What this find tells us, though, is that there is obviously a demand for it," Parmenter said, according to the statement. "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."