Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Man imported 34kg of meth through mail, shipments and mules, court hears

Merkins Agu appears in the Auckland High Court facing charges of importing methamphetamine. Photo / Jason Oxenham.
Merkins Agu appears in the Auckland High Court facing charges of importing methamphetamine. Photo / Jason Oxenham.

Merkins Bah Agu's downfall was a retired American couple caught smuggling 7kg of meth in the linings of their suitcases, a court has heard.

On October 19 last year, Archie and Karenkay Ross were stopped getting off an Air New Zealand flight from Hong Kong and their bags were searched.

When the methamphetamine - worth millions of dollars - was uncovered, they agreed to help lead police to the man they knew as "Daniel" whom they had been in touch with through Skype, a trial at the High Court at Auckland heard today.

Police allege the man had told them to take the bags to a storage unit in Takanini. But police deemed this unsuitable so officers hired a unit in East Tamaki in the Ross' name and the couple dropped the bags.

As instructed they sent the keys to an address in Pokeno and the next day, Agu showed up to the unit, police allege. He didn't take the bags but returned the next day to collect them.

Three days later, Agu, 52, was arrested at his home in Pokeno. He told police he admitted picking up the bags, but he gave them to a man who gave him $500 and said he didn't know what meth was.

Agu, also known as Francis, is on trial at the Auckland High Court on eight charges of importing methamphetamine, totalling 35kg, and one count of attempting to possess methamphetamine for the purpose of supply.

The Crown alleges six of the importing charges were for packages mailed from Hong Kong and China.

Some of the drugs were found in the soles of women's shoes and the linings of packages containing handbags and T-shirts - all were intended for Agu, the "catcher", prosecutor Michael Regan told the jury.

Agu used his own and his girlfriend's addresses and had the parcels sent to names that meant something to him, like his nephew, the court heard.

"[He was] ready to catch them when they were delivered."

Another import charge related to three treadmills sent from Hong Kong in October but that sat unclaimed in customs.

Customs agents inspected the parcels and found 24kg inside the treadmills.

The eighth import charge related to the American couple, Regan said.

The Crown alleges all eight shipments were destined for Agu.

However, Agu's lawyer Terry Darby said although they didn't contest that the product was methamphetamine, the amounts or the dates, his client did not import anything to New Zealand.

Darby asked the jury if Agu really was as sophisticated in his operations as the Crown alleged, "would he really have been so stupid to have done the things that he did?"

The trial continues.

- NZ Herald

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