A drug lord from the Netherlands has been sentenced to 16 years imprisonment in New Zealand after he was found guilty of attempting to import 4.3kg of methamphetamine into the country.
Michael O'Connor, 50, pleaded guilty to importing the class A drug which had a street value between $2.7 and $4.3 million and the potential to make up 43,000 individual doses in August 2015.
Yesterday, in the High Court at Auckland, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison with a minimum non-parole period of eight years.
O'Connor was extradited to New Zealand from the Netherlands in 2014 after the "large scale and sophisticated drug operation" was uncovered in September 2012.
His role was to monitor the imported drug shipment, manage and direct the person tasked to collect it in New Zealand and support that person in getting the shipment into the hands of the local distributor.
Justice Simon Moore said an aggravating feature in O'Connor's offending was the global scale of the drug operation.
"You were The Netherlands-based controller and you were involved in the management of the shipment. The catcher was living in Japan and was instructed to travel here in order to receive, uplift, unpack and deliver the smuggled methamphetamine. The suitcases which contained the drugs were sent from Ankara.
"The method of concealment was highly professional. Once the suitcases arrived here the plan was for the catcher to travel to a different part of New Zealand, apparently Hamilton, in order to unpack the methamphetamine before returning to this city to arrange for its distribution to local recipients."
Another feature was O'Connor's "significant role" in the operation.
Judge Moore said he accepted that, while O'Connor was not the "mastermind" of the operation he was "certainly well up the ladder".
"As you will be aware, this drug has been responsible for an incalculable level of harm in New Zealand over the last decade or so. It is a drug which has not only ruined the lives of those who are addicted to it but it is responsible for massive collateral damage to families, friends and others," he said.
"Virtually no one in this country is unaffected by its pernicious influence; even our taxes are used to meet the medical and other costs linked to this drug and its effects. The temptation to import and distribute methamphetamine must be tempered by the knowledge that those who are caught can expect to receive long sentences."
O'Connor was found guilty in 1995 for drug offences in Australia. He was was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.