Charges dropped in 'horse head' cocaine case

A man arrested in New Zealand's biggest ever cocaine bust is today a free man, after all charges against him were dropped.

Mexican Gonzalo Rivera Pavon (30) was one of three men arrested last July after 35kg of cocaine was discovered concealed inside a decorative horse head encrusted with diamonds, imported to New Zealand from Mexico.

He was charged with importing and possessing the drug, which had an estimated value of $14 million.

But Pavon, who was working as a bartender in Christchurch, has always maintained he was innocent.

This morning in the Auckland High Court - just days before he was due to face trial - the Crown withdrew all charges against him.

Last month an appealed was launched on Givealittle to raise funds for Pavon's legal defence, claiming he was duped by a woman who said she was coming to New Zealand and needed his help.

The page was eventually shut down by Givealittle, but his lawyer Ron Mansfield says today's decision is proof his supporters were right all along.

"That [Givealittle page] was put up by people who supported him, knew that he was innocent and involved without his knowledge, and it definitely vindicates him."

Mansfield says Pavon was an innocent victim, who believed he was helping a legitimate business which could help him build a better life in New Zealand.

"He thought it was something he could legitimately become involved in and [something] that was okay, and he made inquiries to make sure it was okay. He just got it wrong," said Mr Mansfield.

Pavon shed tears as he left the court with two supporters at his side.

He told Newshub the past 10 months have been difficult, and he's now looking forward to rebuilding his life.

"Today he gets the bracelet off his ankle and can live a normal life again. He hasn't been able to do that for a very long time," said Mr Mansfield.

Mr Mansfield says he never should've any faced charges, but commended the Crown for making amends.

"Once a decision like that's been made it takes courage to review it, and it's taken courage from the Crown and Police to review that decision," said Mr Mansfield. "We're pleased they've done it and we think it's responsible."

The two other men arrested in the bust, Mexican Augustini Suarez (44) and American Ronald Cook Snr (56), are due to go to trial next Monday in Auckland.