A Northlander involved in cooking the biggest amount of methamphetamine in New Zealand has been sentenced to nearly 17 years in jail.
Jaydean Hura was one of the two cooks who manufactured at least nine kilos of meth over 10 weeks in a property in Taipuha Rd at Waiotira, between Whangarei and Paparoa, with a street value of between $3.2 million and $4.5 million.
Police busted the drug operation - codenamed Operation Easter - on December 16, 2014 and subsequently arrested a number of people including Hura, Brownie Harding, Joseph Harding, Sharn Keogh, Kiata Sony Pene, Mark Lang, Erima Latimer, Casey Rewha and Jasmin Green.
Brownie Harding is accused of leading the meth operation and is facing charges of conspiring to supply methamphetamine; supplying methamphetamine; possession of methamphetamine; supplying pseudoephedrine; and manufacturing methamphetamine.
Two others - Elijah Joseph Rogers, 27, and Anthony Mangu, 35 - yesterday admitted various drugs' charges in the High Court at Whangarei and were remanded in custody for sentencing next month.
Hura, 36, appeared for sentencing yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to five charges of manufacturing meth and one of participating in organised crime.
Justice Graham Lang said despite Hura's claim he had some knowledge of cooking meth, he must be a skilled cook capable of consistently manufacturing large quantities of the class A drug.
"This was not a spur of the moment situation or something that was done on a whim. This was a large scale, well-planned operation on a commercial basis," he said.
Hura agreed to cook meth when approached as he was in debt and was unemployed, Justice Lang said. He said had Hura chosen a trial by jury, he would have had no chance of defending the charges.
Crown prosecutor Richard Annandale said Hura was not just a cook but was a cook who was able to manufacture kilograms of high quality methamphetamine.
"The operation in which he was cooking was sophisticated to enable kilograms of methamphetamine to be manufactured on six occasions between September and November 2014."
Defence lawyer Lester Cordwell said there was no denial Hura was one of two principal cooks and was involved in a large commercial operation. But he was more than just a cook, he submitted, advocating that Hura was a loyal father and friend whose partner and whanau have stuck by him for a long time.
His offending was borne by his inability to say no because of his addiction to meth, Mr Cordwell told Justice Lang. He said before involving himself with meth, Hura saw his offending as a victimless crime but no longer held that view after seeing the drug's impact on society.
Justice Lang sentenced Hura to 16 years and eight months in jail with a minimum non-parole period of eight years and four months. On the charge of participating in an organised crime, he imposed a concurrent sentence of four years.
Officer in charge of Operation Easter, Detective Sergeant Andrew Dunhill, said the court had sent a strong message to drug dealers that the law would come down hard on them. Supplying methamphetamine carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
DRUG CASE IN NUMBERS
9kg of meth manufactured
- the most ever cooked in NZ
- the potential street value of meth cooked by Jaydean Hura
16 years, 8 months
- sentence handed down, one of the longest in NZ for P offending