Drug importers jailed for more than 20 years

methamphetamine
Ulakai Fakaosilea, left, and Jeremiah Iusitini, right, appeared in court on Monday. Photo credit: Newshub.

Two drug importers were given hefty sentences in Whangarei High Court on Monday.

Australian national 29-year-old Jeremiah Iusitini was sentenced to 25 years and seven months, with a non-parole period of 10 years. He was the senior figure of a group responsible for collecting the meth once it had been dropped to shore. 

Ulakai Fakaosilea, 29, has been sentenced to 22 years and nine months, with a non-parole period of eight years and nine months. He had been deported from Australia only 10 days before the offending.

Both men were charged with importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal group. 

In 2016 police made a record haul when they found almost half-a-tonne of methamphetamine at Ninety Mile Beach worth $450 million. The pair were part of a group of at least seven people who were charged in relation to the operation.

Justice Simon Moore remarked on what he called "greed" and "self-interest" of the pair, involved in the largest known import of methamphetamine into New Zealand - 501kg.

"The human cost of misery and havoc which such quantities would have wrought throughout the land doesn’t bear thinking about. How many lives might you have ruined. How many families might you have destroyed."

On June 5, 2016 a boat was bought in Taipa for $40,000 in cash. A few days later on June 9, a group attempted to launch the boat at Shipwreck Bay on Ninety Mile Beach. 

They did this with the help of locals, who were told the purpose of their boat trip was to spread the remains of relatives at sea. The ruse was accompanied by a brief ritual on the beach. 

The boat was damaged during the launch and was taken to a nearby property for repair. In the meantime, another boat was bought in the Auckland suburb of Pakuranga for $98,000 in cash. 

That same night they returned to Ahipara Beach, two kilometres north of Shipwreck Bay, and picked up 494kg of meth that had been dropped out to sea. 

The boat was later found abandoned on the beach. As police were investigating reports of strange behaviour, two suspects drove past and were chased by officers and arrested. 

A short time later, police stopped a suspicious looking campervan, which they pulled over and found 448kg of meth inside in suitcases that had recently been bought at the Warehouse.

Another 50kg of meth was later found buried in sanddunes on the beach. 

Four of the people who were charged in relation came to New Zealand from Australia and one arrived from Hong Kong as part of a tour group.

Three of the men convicted of being involved have been sentenced to between 22 and 24 years' jail, with non-parole periods between eight and 10 years. They are Kan Yip Wan, Amokoi Matoto Fonua and Malachi Damien Naua Tuilotolava.

An additional man, who has been given permanent name suppression, was sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Newshub.