Guilty verdicts in major drug case

By Brendan Manning

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

Lithuanian national Rokas Karpavicius has been found guilty of importing an LSD-laden Harry Potter book into New Zealand and money laundering, but not guilty of conspiracy and other drugs charges.

A jury in the High Court at Auckland returned its verdicts this evening after deliberating for eight and a half hours.

They found Karpavicius, who the Crown had alleged was the head of an international drug syndicate, guilty of three counts of money laundering and of importing a Class A controlled drug, but not guilty of conspiracy to import a Class A controlled drug and not guilty of two counts of importing a Class B controlled drug.

The jury could not reach decisions on two other charges of importing a Class B controlled drug, which relate to the alleged importation of granite statues containing large quantities of MDMA, or ecstasy.

Justice Graham Lang discharged the jury on those two charges.

During his trial, which began last Monday, the Crown alleged that Karpavicius supplied large quantities of drugs to the New Zealand market in collaboration with notorious Auckland criminal Ronald Terrence Brown and others.

His fingerprints were found on a Harry Potter book which had LSD concealed in the spine, the court was told.

Because of the vast sums of money being made, the Crown said Karpavicius employed cash mules to launder his drug money in order to get it back to Europe.

The jury was played coded phone conversations between Karpavicius, Brown and their associates which the Crown alleged showed a criminal conspiracy at work.

But Karpavicius' lawyer, Graeme Newell, said there was no hard evidence to link his client to the charges.

Any discussions around money between him and Brown were in relation to Karpavicius helping Brown invest his money in Europe, he said.

Karpavicius was arrested late last year and taken into police custody in Latvia as he travelled to Turkey.

A "red notice'' posted by Interpol had alerted Latvian authorities to the serious drugs charges he faced in New Zealand.

Detectives from the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand flew to Latvia to collect and extradite him.

Karpavicius, who was remanded in custody, will appear before the court again later this month when the Crown is expected to decide whether or not to proceed on the two charges the jury could not decide on.

He will be sentenced next month.

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