Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Photos of alleged drug kingpin found on money mule's camera

Rokas Karpavicius. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Rokas Karpavicius. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Police found photographs of alleged international drug trafficker Rokas Karpavicius on a camera belonging to a suspected "money mule", a court has been told.

Karpavicius is on trial in the High Court at Auckland having been extradited to New Zealand from Latvia.

The Lithuanian national is alleged to have controlled the supply of large quantities of Class A and B drugs to the New Zealand market, distributed here by criminal godfather Ronald Terrence Brown and his associates.

Karpavicius has pleaded not guilty to all eight charges against him, which also include two of money laundering.

Today, the court was told that Auckland drug police investigating the syndicate stopped two suspected "money mules", Donatas Jukna and Martynas Cikas, when they arrived at Auckland Airport in May, 2008.

The Crown alleges the Lithuanians were in New Zealand to collect drug money from Brown so they could launder it and get it to Karpavicius without alerting authorities.

While they were being questioned at the airport, Auckland police secretly downloaded the contents of Cikas' digital camera.

The officer in charge of "Operation Keyboard", Detective Sergeant John Sowter, told the court they found several images of Karpavicius.

Jukna and Cikas were allowed to enter the country because arresting them would have jeopardised the broader police investigation, the court heard.

They were later found leaving with nearly $321,000 in cash concealed in their luggage, Mr Sowter said.

The Crown presented dozens more images to the jury to try to establish links between Karpavicius and underworld players.

One photograph showed Karpavicius' wife, Jurga Masilioniene, with Brown and others, found at Brown's Westmere home when it was raided in August 2008.

Brown is serving a prison sentence of 11 years and six months after admitting importing ecstasy, LSD and methamphetamine, and using a passport in a false name.

Jukna was sentenced to two years and nine months imprisonment last September for money laundering.

Cikas remains at large with an Interpol "red notice" posted against his name.

Karpavicius' trial continues.

- APNZ

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