Drug-accused has charity fundraiser shut down

A Givealittle page set up to raise funds for a Christchurch bartender accused of importing 35kg of cocaine stuffed inside a horse head has been taken down.

Gonzalo Rivera-Pavon, 30, charged in connection with New Zealand's biggest cocaine bust, had until Sunday afternoon been seeking funds from Kiwis on charitable website Givealittle.

The accused, including fellow Mexican national Augustini Suarez, 44, and American Ronald Cook Snr, 56, were arrested last year following New Zealand's biggest cocaine seizure.

All three are charged with possessing and importing a class A drug, after Customs found 35kg of cocaine inside a 400kg diamante-encrusted horse head, imported from Mexico.

The page was set up by a friend on behalf of Rivera-Pavon, Melanie Bachi, who described him as the innocent victim of a scam.

So far there had been six donations totalling $2745. The money was sought to assist with legal expenses, despite the accused being likely to qualify for legal aid.

Before it was removed, Givealittle chief giving officer Tom Beyer said the company ethos was not to pass judgement on what constitutes a valuable cause.

Mr Beyer told the New Zealand Herald anyone could set up a page for themselves or on behalf of an individual or organisation as long as the funds were not used for "activities or intentions which are directly or indirectly illegal according to New Zealand law".

"It's up to the donors to decide whether or not they think it's worthy."

All three are awaiting trial and are due to appear in Manukau District Court in July.

It's not clear who removed the page.