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

The ultimate P pipes: 61kg of drugs hidden in garden hoses

Four young men convicted in $83m P plot were paid as little as $10,000 but the ringleader from Hong Kong is a free man.
Police seized 61kg of methamphetamine some smuggled inside hoses. Photo / Supplied.
Police seized 61kg of methamphetamine some smuggled inside hoses. Photo / Supplied.

The final underling in a Hong Kong drug syndicate busted for smuggling $83 million of P inside garden hoses has been jailed.

But the syndicate boss, whom he met at SkyCity casino as a 20-year-old student, is a free man whose whereabouts overseas is unknown.

Police and Customs discovered 61kg of methamphetamine hidden inside coiled garden hoses arriving by ship in March last year.

At the time, the cache was the second largest seizure of the Class-A drug in New Zealand history and police found another 22kg of P when they tracked the suspects to a residential address in Pakuranga.

Kin Long Chan was this month sentenced to 19 years and 3 months in prison; the last of four young men from Hong Kong convicted following Operation Wand.

The 23-year-old had lived in New Zealand with a home-stay family since he was 12.

He then met Ho Mak, described by Justice Timothy Brewer as the "main criminal" behind the large shipments of methamphetamine, at SkyCity casino in 2013 and became involved in Mak's syndicate.

In March 2015, Police and Customs officers discovered the massive 61kg haul and repacked most of the methamphetamine with a harmless placebo, before allowing the shipment to be delivered to a storage unit in Mt Eden.

Police seized 80kg of methamphetamine, some smuggled inside hoses, in Operation Wand. Photo / Supplied.
Police seized 80kg of methamphetamine, some smuggled inside hoses, in Operation Wand. Photo / Supplied.

Chan photographed the boxes when they arrived and reassured Ho Mak, in Hong Kong, the goods were safely delivered.

"You knew there was a big shipment coming in and you were involved with that...you were very nervous when the shipment arrived, checking for police cars and so on," Justice Brewer said.

Chan was not Mak's right-hand man, but "rather the local man recruited for your ability to operate in New Zealand", said Justice Brewer.

Two others, Choi Kit Kam and Lok Sing Yip, were higher in the pecking order - despite being younger than Chan - and flew out from Hong Kong to help distribute the drugs.

The pair pleaded guilty to a raft of Class-A charges before the trial; Kam was sentenced to 12 years and 6 months, Yip to 16 years and 6 months.

Kam rented the Pakuranga home where the 22kg stash of methamphetamine was found. He was just 18 at the time of the police raids.

Police seized 83kg of methamphetamine, some smuggled inside hoses, in Operation Wand. Photo / Supplied.
Police seized 83kg of methamphetamine, some smuggled inside hoses, in Operation Wand. Photo / Supplied.

Yip was 20 and paid just $10,000.

A fourth Hong Kong national, Kakit Yau, pleaded guilty to possession of a Class-A drug for supply and supply.

The court heard Yau had different buyers who needed up to 5kg of methamphetamine every week. They were willing to pay between $190,000 and $220,000 for each kilogram.

He was sentenced to 8 years and 7 months.

The ringleader Ho Mak was not in New Zealand at the time of Operation Wand and a spokeswoman said police were not "actively seeking anyone else in relation to this investigation".

At the time, the total of 83kg was the second largest cache of methamphetamine ever intercepted in New Zealand.

This was dwarfed by the discovery of 494kg of P in a campervan and buried in sand dunes in Northland in June this year.

Nearly 500kg of methamphetamine was seized by Northland police earlier this year. Photo / Supplied.
Nearly 500kg of methamphetamine was seized by Northland police earlier this year. Photo / Supplied.

Operation Wand

Kin Long Chan
Found guilty of 9 Class-A drug charges: Import methamphetamine (x4) supply (x2), attempted supply and possession for supply (x2).

Sentence: 19 years 3 months

Choi Kit Kam
Pleaded guilty to 10 Class-A drug charges: import methamphetamine (x5) supply (x2) possession for supply (x2) and attempted supply.

Sentence: 12 years 6 months

Lok Sing Yip
Pleaded guilty to 7 Class-A drug charges: import methamphetamine (x2) supply (x2) possession for supply (x2) and attempted supply.

Sentence: 16 years 6 months

Kakit Yau
Pleaded guilty to 2 Class-A drug charges: Possession of methamphetamine for supply and supply.

Sentence: 8 years 7 months

- NZ Herald

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