A Mount Maunganui man who masterminded smuggling cocaine and methamphetamine into the country in laptops has been jailed for eight years.
Sickness beneficiary Joseph Evans, 51, was convicted and sentenced on 12 charges of importing and supplying cocaine and methamphetamine in Tauranga District Court today.
A 220.1 gram bag of methamphetamine found at Joseph Evans' Mount Maunganui home.
Evans is currently serving a six and a half-year-jail sentence for kidnapping and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.
His eight year sentence is in addition to his current jail sentence, giving him a total jail term of 14 and a half years.
Crown prosecutor Nick Belton told the court the offending is a “high level of commercial importation” of the two drugs over a substantial period of time – between June 2012 and January 2013.
He submitted a starting point of between 15 and 16 years - taking into account previous offending. Defence laywer Tony Balme suggested a starting point of 12 and a half years.
Judge Christopher Harding believes an appropriate starting point of 14 years for the drugs charges with a reduction of two years for his late guilty plea and remorse.
The judge says the total of 18 and a half years jail is inappropriate and disproportionate for the offending, and he reduced the sentence to eight years with a minimum non-parole period of half his sentence.
One of the aggravating factors is the frequency of importation of the drugs, which occurred during a period of about six months, says Judge Harding.
"This was highly pre-meditated and was high end commercial importation of a scale, fortunately, not often seen in this court.”
About 7.10am on December 14, police executed a search warrant at Evans' home at Pacific Apartments, Mount Maunganui where they found a snaplock bag with 25.7grams of cocaine of 40 per cent purity. If sold the cocaine is valued between $10,280 and $15,420.
If the cocaine was cut to 10 per cent purity, it would prove about 100 grams valued between $40,000 and $60,000.
Also located was 6.6grams of methamphetamine and $400 and methamphetamine pipes. In the basement garage police discovered $2190 and three ‘loaded for travel' Visa cards in Evans' BMW.
On January 20, 2013 police returned to Pacific Apartments complex searching a locked storage cupboard in the basement area, strictly for management but had since had the lock removed and replaced with a different lock.
In the cupboard was an airtight plastic bag containing 220.1grams of methamphetamine, a tightly packaged plastic bag with 126.1grams of cocaine with a purity of 37 per cent and $15,100 in $20 notes.
If sold at 37 per cent the 126.1grams is valued between $50,440 and $75,660. If cut to 10 per cent purity is valued between 500 grams between $200,000 and $500,000.
The 220.1grams of methamphetamine has a street value between $176,000 and $264,000.
Cocaine is not manufactured in New Zealand. It can only be imported and often sourced from various areas in South America via the United States.
When questioned by police Evans admitted the bags of methamphetamine and cocaine were imported by him in a revamped laptop computer.
He told police he had been importing cocaine and methamphetamine from the United States through the laptops between June 2012 and January 2013 – importing similar quantities on three separate occasions since June.
The money was funded by Evans and others by loading money onto the Visa travel cards. Evans recalled putting between $160,000 and $180,000 on the cards.
Evans told police he had been selling cocaine at $6000 an ounce along with buying methamphetamine at NZ$65 a gram and selling it for $8000 an ounce in NZ. He also imported working computers as “dummy” runs that didn't contain drugs.
He told police he was importing the drugs in an attempt to better his and his children's lives.
Judge Harding also ordered the forfeiture of $17,690 cash and destruction of the drugs and utensils.
Charges against Evans' son Seth Neita Evans were recently dropped due to a lack of evidence.