One of the two foreign nationals accused of importing 25kg of ephedrine allegedly had about 12kg strapped to his body.

Jianlai Chen, 33, who appeared in the Tauranga District Court today, pleaded not guilty to six drug importation and supply charges through his lawyer Craig Horsley.

Horsley told Judge David Cameron that his client elected trial by jury.

Chen has denied three charges of importing ephedrine, two of possession of ephedrine for supply, and a further charge of supplying about 12kg of ephedrine to his alleged co-offender.


Ephedrine is a precursor used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

The charges stem from an allegation that Customs officers found ephedrine on board the logging vessel Bunun Justice which arrived at the Port of Tauranga on June 28.

Court charging documents revealed that a package of ephedrine, weighing about 1kg, was allegedly found inside the funnel area of the engine room of the ship during a search on July 1.

Chen allegedly had about 12kg of ephedrine strapped to his body after he departed the vessel.

Chen is also accused of importing and possessing about 25.6kg of ephedrine for supply.

His alleged co-offender, who was granted interim name suppression, has pleaded not guilty to two charges of possessing ephedrine for supply, which includes about 38kg allegedly found at an Auckland address last month.

The defendant also pleaded not guilty, through his lawyer, to a further charge of importing about 12kg of ephedrine.

Judge Cameron further remanded both men in custody to next appear in court on September 16 for a case review hearing.


The judge said name suppression was granted on an "interim basis only" and the suppression order would be reviewed that day.