Jared Savage

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

Ecstasy drug raid nets businessmen

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A millionaire businessman is among 19 people arrested after a covert investigation targeting a criminal syndicate allegedly making and selling thousands of Ecstasy pills every week.

Confidential police information was also allegedly leaked to members of the group.

About $14 million worth of assets were seized yesterday in raids.

They included multimillion-dollar homes, expensive cars such as Bentleys, BMWs and Range Rovers, jet skis, a boat and pill presses.

The seizures followed a 12-month inquiry into the manufacture, supply and distribution of Class B and C drugs.

Detectives say the syndicate was the biggest player in the underground pill market and sold tens of thousands of tablets - which fetch at least $40 each - a week.

More than 200 police officers executed search warrants at 45 addresses throughout Auckland.

The armed offenders squad was called to two properties.

Fourteen of the 19 arrested appeared in the Auckland District Court yesterday afternoon charged with drug-related offences, including the manufacture and sale of MDMA - the Class-B drug known as Ecstasy - and analogues such as 4-MEC and 4-MMC.

The other five defendants will appear today.

At the centre of the inquiry is the 37-year-old company director who has name suppression to protect the reputation of his business and lucrative overseas contracts. His $3 million property has been seized.

A 30-year-old staff member of the company also has name suppression, as do a 30-year-old hairdresser and her husband.

A 35-year-old from Meadowbank and a 58-year-old from Remuera had their names and occupations suppressed.

All but one of the 14 accused was granted bail- Stanley Marshall Alphonsus Leone was recalled to prison.

The 30-year-old faces four charges of manufacture, supply and selling Class B and Class C drugs.

Others who can be named include Johnny Be Good, 35, Rangimarie Kemp, 27, Grant Oswald Petersen, 25, Kevin Sean Challis, 32, Shalendra Singh, 32, Kelvin Sonny Cress, 33, and Brendan Nguyen, 32.

While some of the accused are millionaires, Petersen is a disc jockey, Kemp is a road worker and Challis is a painter.

Nguyen faces 28 charges, including attempting to pervert the course of justice by providing police information to two co-accused.

He is also charged with conspiring with Allen Bryan Cho to supply methamphetamine.

Singh faces 27 charges, including supplying methamphetamine and money laundering more than $100,000 through a bank account connected to Cho.

The head of the Auckland metro drug squad, Detective Inspector Bruce Good, said the syndicate was responsible for the bulk of Ecstasy manufacturing and supply in New Zealand, which involved tens of thousands of pills a week. He said Ecstasy sold for at least $40 a pill.

"What is also of concern is that many of the pills or tablets seized comprise various mixtures of compounds, the effects of which when consumed could be fatal. Some were being manufactured on premises where rat poison was also made."

Police found eight pill presses in Onehunga, Albany and Highbrook, as well as kilos of compound ready to be pressed and tens of thousands of pills.

WANTED MAN

Police are hunting for Allen Bryan Cho in connection with their 12-month investigation into the manufacture, supply and distribution of Ecstasy and Class-C analogues.

The 36-year-old lives at the Hobson Garden Apartments in Hobson St, central Auckland, and police are concerned he may try to obtain false documentation to flee the country.

Anyone with information should contact Detective Sergeant Lloyd Schmid on 0274-746-663 or call Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111.

- NZ Herald

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