Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Footballer jailed for lead role in cocaine ring

Drugs were stored at an Auckland gym where they were handed to the next link in the supply chain

Kindness Agwu. Photo / NZ Herald
Kindness Agwu. Photo / NZ Herald

A Nigerian football player who "flooded the streets of Auckland" with cocaine and a former gang leader have been handed lengthy prison sentences.

But the identity of the gym alleged to be the Auckland link in the supply chain from Argentina is still secret.

Kindness Onyedikachi Agwu was described as the head of the New Zealand end of an international drug ring who answered to the "Chairman" and wired nearly half a million dollars in cash to Argentina, Ecuador, Australia, Brazil and Togo over three months.

He denied the charges at trial, claiming he was being framed, but was convicted of 15 counts of importing and supplying cocaine which the Crown estimated to involve more than 5kg of the Class-A drug.

Agwu was playing semi-professional football for an Auckland club and told the court the money transfers were to pay for "certificates" from the Nigerian Football Association to allow football players to transfer overseas.

But in sentencing him to 17 years in prison - of which he must serve half before being eligible for parole - Judge Jonathan Moses said Agwu's evidence was fanciful. "You are not the victim of a conspiracy. You are the author of your own misfortune," Judge Moses said.

"Drugs are a social evil and you flooded the streets of Auckland with cocaine. You maintain your innocence but the evidence against you was compelling."

The Operation Dreadnought case was that Agwu arranged shipments of cocaine from South America and recruited an Auckland man - who in turn recruited his wife and others - to organise fake addresses to which the packages could be mailed.

The parcels were then redirected to family and friends of the husband-and-wife team, who have name suppression, who later gave evidence at trial.

The drugs were stored at an Auckland gym where the cocaine was handed to the next link in the supply chain.

The gym owner was charged in connection with the case but later excused from trial after being diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease. His identity is suppressed and is currently the subject of an appeal to the High Court.

Bert Jury. Photo / NZ Herald
Bert Jury. Photo / NZ Herald

Bert Leonard Jury, one of two men who picked up cocaine from the gym, was also sentenced at the Auckland District Court this week.

The 45-year-old was found guilty of five charges of supplying the Class-A drug which Judge Moses said amounted to 1.2kg in one month.

Judge Moses referred to Jury's "poor criminal history", which includes convictions for aggravated robbery, and long association with a notorious Auckland gang.

The Weekend Herald can reveal that Jury was a senior member of the King Cobras - with the snake insignia tattooed across his back - but now claims to have left the gang.

Judge Moses noted Jury's devotion in taking care of his dying mother and also his love for his wife and young child, which he took into account in sentencing him to nine years in prison but not imposing a minimum period before he was eligible for parole.

"I've watched you closely during the trial and am satisfied you are not putting it on. People of all walks of life are here to support you today, including your wife whom many credit with this turnaround in the last three years," Judge Moses said.

"But you are now 45 years old. This is not a lecture but you must think hard about your behaviour if you don't want to be separated from your young family for long periods of time."

- NZ Herald

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