Tauranga drug kingpin pleads guilty

By Sandra Conchie

Tauranga party pill king Gary Read has admitted smuggling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of precursor drugs from Thailand - enough to cook up millions of dollars worth of P.

Gary John Read, 45, was set to defend multiple drug importation and dealing charges in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday, but pleaded guilty to 74 charges.

This included 71 counts of importing pseudoephedrine, possession of the drug and P for supply, participating in an organised crime group and unlawful possession of a pistol.

Read was the director of NZ Party Pills Ltd and internet Sales Ltd, a company which specialised in herbal supplements and legal highs.

Read's arrest related to a joint investigation conducted by the officers from the Organised and Financial Crime Agency, of New Zealand, Tauranga police and Customs.

He admitted organising the importation of multiple packages of pseudoephedrine to be smuggled into this country between July 2009 and December 2011.

The Crown says Read was the mastermind behind this drug dealing syndicate, arranged for the packages of the pre-cursor drug to be posted to various addresses in Auckland, Waihi, Tauranga and Hamilton.

It is alleged friends and family members acted as "catchers" for the drug packages which were supplied to meth cooks. The finished product was supplied at wholesale level.

Between September 21 and 27, 2011 shortly before Read's arrest he was seen in a garden reserve area near the intersection of 15th Ave and Cameron Rd, which is where police located a plastic container buried in the undergrowth.

It contained seven ounce bags of P - estimated to be worth $10,000-$15,000 each at the time.

One of the intercepted drug packages was tracked to Read's Tauranga home.

When his home was raided by armed police on September 21, 2011 he was found in the kitchen opening a package containing about 1.5kg of pseudoephedrine.

The exact value of the pseudoephedrine smuggled into the country by Read and the potential amount of P it could have been used to cook up will be the subject Crown's summary of facts still be filed with the court.

But at $700 a gram potentially the P was worth millions of dollars.

Read was further remanded in custody by Justice Kit Toogood for sentencing in the High Court at Auckland next month.

Police have already seized three homes in Tauranga and several cars, plus original artworks worth $100,000 as a result of this drug operation.

Three others facing similar importation charges are on trial set to start today.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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