The two top members of one of the largest crime syndicates in New Zealand have been jailed for a total of 34 years - meaning members of their drug network have been sentenced to 114 years in prison.
Feng Chih "Daniel" Hsu and Aenoy "Dion" Bouavong were the main targets in a 12-month covert investigation into an underworld network spanning Auckland, Waikato and Coromandel which was manufacturing and selling the Class-A drug methamphetamine, or "P".
The pair pleaded guilty to methamphetamine possession and supply charges, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
When armed police raided Hsu's North Shore home in July 2010, they found 5kg of methamphetamine, 2kg of ContacNT - which contains pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in P - a cache of firearms and ammunition and $20,000.
The discovery was described as one of the most significant P seizures made in New Zealand.
Referred to as "elder brother" or "Big Daniel", Hsu was the head of the organised crime enterprise and able to obtain large amounts of methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine from overseas.
He was sentenced in the High Court at Auckland yesterday to 17 years and three months in prison by Justice Kit Toogood, who described him as "the top of the distribution pyramid".
The drugs were delivered to Hsu's righthand man, Bouavong, who passed the parcels to trusted lieutenants such as his brother Phokam, Derek Poon, Henry Mika and Tavita Maleko.
They would supply lower-level dealers in the syndicate such as Aenoy Keophila and Thi Hong Lan Nguyen.
Justice Toogood said the methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine found with the prisoners was worth between $6 million and $7 million.
He described the group as "a sophisticated, structured large-scale operation".
It is understood that under the Proceeds of Crimes Act, police are now seeking money from the sale of Hsu's BMW X5 car and his house, and to seize $985,000 in cash.
The joint operation between the Organised and Financial Crime Agency and Auckland police relied on intercepted conversations from tapped cellphones.
More than 80 phones and 46,000 private communications were monitored. Those caught on tape spoke in code.
Detectives were also able to establish a link between the Auckland drug network and methamphetamine cooks in the Coromandel Peninsula.
That link was two Vietnamese men, Phillip Ly and Hoang Quoc Nguyen, who obtained pseudoephedrine from the Hsu-Bouavong enterprise and sold the Class-C drug to Delia Fonotia. She passed on the ingredient to Steven John Mehrtens, from Whangamata, and Waihi man Scott Warren Filer.
Both were found guilty of manufacturing between 3kg and 4kg of methamphetamine, and Filer was sentenced to 17 years in prison. Mehrtens, 56, is on the run from police.
Another fugitive is Jiuliang Wei, the sole director of Auckland money exchange business Dreamland Finance. He fled to China before he could be charged with laundering nearly $2 million for Hsu and Bouavong over a year.
His finance manager, Xiang Zhang, was acquitted of two money-laundering charges.
Crown prosecutor David Johnstone told the court that Hsu was "the mastermind".
Hsu's lawyer, Ron Mansfield, said his client got involved in drugs after his business failed but was relieved when police caught him.
"It does seem that he found himself in a lifestyle difficult to get out of," he said.
But Justice Toogood said Hsu's offending involved methamphetamine worth more than $5 million, and was motivated by greed.
He described Hsu as being "at the top of the distribution pyramid".
Detective Inspector Steve Wood said Daniel Hsu was a major underworld figure in Auckland and his arrest had made an impact on the methamphetamine market.By Edward Gay @edwardgay Email Edward, Jared Savage @jaredsavageNZH Email Jared