Personal trainer who smuggled drugs in pillows jailed for six years

By Solbin Kang

Yoram Kalev was jailed for six years. Photo / File
Yoram Kalev was jailed for six years. Photo / File

A personal trainer who smuggled 1.5kg of meth into Wellington Airport inside two neck pillows said he thought he was carrying a drug he used for body building.

Former Les Mills trainer Yoram Kalev, 48, appeared at the Wellington District Court today. He was sentenced to six years and 10 months in prison for possessing and importing methamphetamine.

On January 19 this year, Kalev, an Australian living in New Zealand, arrived into Wellington Airport via Sydney after a trip from Hong Kong, and was stopped by Customs.

During the search, two neck pillows with about 1.46kg of meth inside was found, the court heard.

It had a street value of $1,466,000.

His lawyer Letizea Ord said the man had carried what he had thought was ephedrine into the country.

From September 2011 ephedrine and was categorised as a controlled drug and may only be prescribed by a doctor.

"Unfortunately he was persuaded against his better judgment," Ord said.

"He wasn't thinking clearly and was persuaded to take two neck pillows back to Wellington."

Kalev was a personal trainer at Les Mills gym on Taranaki St at the time and also competed in body building competitions.

Kalev admitted he used steroids and ephedrine for muscle building as a body builder.

"This gentleman has paid a very huge price for a mistake and he has done the best in a very bad situation," Ord said.

"Ultimately he was a personal trainer and his job was to make lives better not to destroy life."

Kalev's days as a bodybuilder were over and he would never use steroids or ephedrine again, she said.

Judge Denys Barry acknowledged he had shown "real remorse" and accepted responsibility for his actions.

"You were a mule or a courier, rather than a mastermind and you made a misjudgment agreeing to carry this stuff through and you thought it was ephedrine," he said.

A probation report showed he was "duped carrying this stuff over borders from Hong Kong," Judge Barry said.

In a statement today, Customs said an officer noticed one of the neck pillows Kalev was carrying was unusually heavy.

A second neck pillow was found in the luggage.

Customs investigations manager Maurice O'Brien said: "This was an excellent example of our officers using passenger targeting systems and their skills and expertise to find and stop drugs. Keeping harmful drugs away from our communities is a priority."

- NZ Herald

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