New Zealand meth’s ‘Mr Big’ jailed for 15 years over US$10m stash
Despite guilty plea, the defendant’s remorse is ‘questionable’ court told
By Chelsea Boyle
He was likened in court to the “Mr Big” of New Zealand’s Class A drug importation scene, now Adrian Le’Ca has been sentenced to 15 year and 9 months in prison.
The High Court in Auckland heard today how the Bandidos gang member was the “organiser” of a large drug scheme that imported methamphetamine into the country through the international mail system.
The 55-year-old was arrested and charged over Operation Cossack, following the seizure of 15kg of methamphetamine and 2kg of cocaine in 2016.
The methamphetamine seized had a purity level of 80 per cent and was estimated to be worth NZ$14,900,000 (US$10,859,120).
Le’Ca pleaded guilty to charges relating to the importation and possession for supply of methamphetamine and cocaine.
The court heard how the remorse expressed was “questionable” because he did not want to talk about the offending.
However, his defence lawyer Annabel Maxwell Scott said he was concerned he would never see his wife and children again.
Justice Christine Gordon reflected on the comments of Justice Duffy, who sentenced additional offenders Queenie Anne Matthews and Meinata Piahana.
Justice Duffy said Le’Ca had influenced the pair, who were both related to him, and “drew those offenders into his criminal world”.
Maxwell Scott admitted Le’Ca played a big role as the organiser but said that it was at a higher level nationally speaking, not internationally.
”[He was] not the top of the international chain.”
Maxwell Scott asked that in be taken into account that Le’Ca had been remanded in custody for 17 months.
In that time, he had completed two drug rehabilitation programmes in prison, she said.
“He has become healthier in prison probably because he’s not on drugs anymore, she said.
“He has been keeping fit and remaining very positive.”
Maxwell Scott said he was engaging with the younger prisoners in a mentorship capacity to assist with rehabilitation.
He just asked that the court imposed the minimum sentence, she said.
Justice Gordon noted it had been said before that methamphetamine was an “insidious, pernicious and highly addictive drug responsible for incalculable levels of misery”.
She sentenced Le’Ca to 15 years and nine months’ imprisonment with, a non parole period of seven years and 10 months.
Counties Manukau major crime team Detective Senior Sergeant Albie Alexander said the convictions were the result of a dedicated effort by staff who worked tirelessly on a lengthy and complex drug operation.
“Methamphetamine destroys lives, and the huge amount seized by police had the potential to cause a significant amount of harm and damage to our community.
“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case and there will continue to be those who attempt to smuggle methamphetamine into the country.
“The seriousness of this offending is at the highest level and are reflected in the penalties passed down from the courts.
“What was particularly striking about this case was that the main offender and mastermind in this smuggling operation (Le’Ca), exploited two of his own family members by involving them in his criminal activity.
“We will strive to bring these offenders to account and do everything in our power to get methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs off our streets and keep our communities safe.”
Customs investigations manager Bruce Berry said disrupting the supply of drugs was top priority for Customs, and dismantling the criminal syndicate was the ultimate aim.
“Customs was pleased to support police in this operation where one small seizure led to a much larger seizure and the arrests. This was a good result for all involved.”