Customs Officer Kelvin Te tests a substance with the FirstDefender device. Photo: Supplied.

New drug analyser for Nelson


This week Customs is deploying 14 new FirstDefenders, a mobile substance identification device, one of which will be sent to Nelson.

The identification device uses a laser to analyse a substance against a database of over 11,000 illicit and legal substances to provide an accurate result within seconds, often without the need to open the packaging.

Close up of FirstDefender device. Photo: Supplied.
Close up of FirstDefender device. Photo: Supplied.

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner says the devices will be a fundamental piece of equipment for frontline officers, making drug identification quicker, safer and more efficient.

“They are portable and easy to use, making it ideal for district ports and can be used for Customs’ search warrants or taken on board vessels that are searched.

“Its database can be upgraded to include new and emerging drugs, which is significant as synthetic drugs continue to evolve in chemical properties. Customs will also be sharing this latest capability with partner agencies to help with broader drug enforcement work.”

A single device was purchased in 2014 to help identify illicit drugs within seconds at the International Mail Centre.

Following its success, close to $977,000 was invested in 2015 to extend this technology to all Customs regions.”

Nicky says Customs’ hard work in seizing drugs and catching criminals has literally paid off.

“We are using assets taken from criminals to purchase tools that will help seize more drugs and catch more criminals.”

The 12 locations include Opua, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Queenstown and Bluff.