Killer Beez gang founder jailed for more than 10 years

Killer Beez gang boss Josh Masters has been accused of "toying with the justice system". Photo / Greg Bowker
Killer Beez gang boss Josh Masters has been accused of "toying with the justice system". Photo / Greg Bowker

The founder of the Killer Beez street gang has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for organising drug deals after police intercepted thousands of his coded phone conversations.

Josh Masters - a part-time rapper and owner of a record company - bought large amounts of P and passed it onto associates.

Some were in the Killer Beez and others were family members.

Masters had earlier pleaded guilty to four charges including supplying P and money laundering, but more than four years after his arrest, he disputed aspects of the police case against him.

The sentencing has been delayed on several occasions but this morning at the High Court at Auckland, Justice Kit Toogood sentenced Masters to 10 years and five months in prison.

He must serve five years and nine months inside prison before he is eligible for parole.

Justice Toogood said he found Masters' evidence that he had simply introduced people to be a "complete fabrication".

He said Masters showed promise as a businessman and a leader but had used his skills to sell drugs.

"No doubt you used your mana to run the operation and you had a hands-on role."

A court hearing in May heard police intercepted thousands of phone calls and text message conversations during operation Leo in 2008.

They included talk of "friends". Masters said he was organising protection. The police said "friends" are ounces of meth.

Masters said he is against meth. Although he introduced friends to convicted drug dealer Ming Nguyen, he didn't know what he and his associates were doing.

"I can't be blamed for what they're doing."

Police intercepted a phone call between Masters and Nguyen about three "friends" before Nguyen's car was stopped. Inside, police found four ounces of meth, three of them together.

Crown prosecutor Josh Shaw pointed out to Masters there were no friends, meaning people, in the car.

Police also found $20,000 in Masters' house. Masters said he was on a sickness benefit and receiving $175 a week at the time of his arrest in 2008.

The money, he said, came from merchandise, CDs and ticket sales associated with his record company Colourway and was kept in a filing cabinet.

He said his partner was the only one with a key to the cabinet.

The hearing also provided an insight into how the Killer Beez started.

Masters told the court that although he was seen as the head of the gang, he was only one of three that started it up.

He confirmed members' names to Mr Shaw and said many were sons and nephews of members of the Tribesman gang.

Masters said he and two cousins came up with the idea of the gang during a "lag" in prison.

They decided the gang would have three areas of focus - sport, music, and business. "Each of us had a talent that we wanted to share," he told the court.

He said the Killer Beez had no headquarters, no real structure and there were no patches. He conceded that some members made money by breaking the law but others had their own businesses or worked for wages.

Masters said once out of prison, the police "harassed" him over the Killer Beez and he asked his partner to incorporate the gang in his cousin's name and file papers with the companies office.

"It was my way of saying goodbye, everyone was thinking it was made to be a gang ... that's not what I wanted."

He said he wanted to spend more time on his record company.

Nguyen and Masters were among 44 people arrested as part of Operation Leo. Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of meth was seized.

Nguyen was jailed in 2010 for his part in the drug dealing. He received a sentence of nine years and three months with a minimum non-parole period of four years and six months.

The Killer Beez gang was associated with violent and unprovoked attacks on the North Shore that left two young couples with serious head injuries in January 2008.

- APNZ

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