A woman who had given birth just two weeks earlier and her cousin are among the latest suspected victims of fatal doses of synthetic drugs.

And the Weekend Herald can reveal that the man charged with supplying both victims was also a relative.

Marilyn Makikiriti, 26, died on Monday, September 11, in West Auckland.

Her cousin Junior Taneao died two days later.


Police confirmed the deaths were believed to be related to synthetic drugs and are investigating on behalf of the coroner.

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They could not comment further.

Makikiriti and Taneao are among 20 deaths before the coroner suspected to be related to synthetic drugs.

The list also includes 22-year-old Henderson father Calum Jones, whose parents spoke out about synthetics in the Herald last week.

Makikiriti's brother Isitolo Uritua has been charged with two counts of selling or supplying a psychoactive substance.

Sources said police have alleged Uritua supplied his sister and cousin with synthetic drugs before they died.

He appeared in the Waitakere District Court on September 15 and was remanded on bail until October 5.

The men who allegedly supplied Uritua with the drugs have also been charged and appeared in court yesterday.

Mitchell Moss, 22, is charged with supplying and possessing psychoactive drugs.

A 30-year-old man, who was granted interim name suppression, is charged with supplying and possessing psychoactives and possession of a pipe for consuming methamphetamine.

Both men were remanded on bail until October 11.

Conditions of their bail include not associating with each other or using drugs including synthetics.

Makikiriti and Taneao's funerals were held this week.

Their family did not want to speak publicly about their deaths.

A haul of synthetic drugs recently seized by the Waitemata Police. Photograph supplied
A haul of synthetic drugs recently seized by the Waitemata Police. Photograph supplied

Makikiriti was a mother of three boys - her youngest born in late August, just two weeks before she died.

Another of her sons started school early this month and she proudly shared a photograph of him in his uniform on Facebook.

A death notice for Makikiriti published online described her as a loving mother and sister and "a good friend to many".

Other friends and family paid tribute to the 26-year-old on social media.

They said she would be remembered for her big and beautiful smile, her mischief and her love of music.

She was "one of a kind", one relative said.

The government banned psychoactive substances in 2013 but they are still heavily used and available throughout the country.

After the dramatic spike in synthetics-related deaths police ramped up their efforts to catch those manufacturing and selling the toxic substances.

As part of that they arrested Red Beach man Gary Mark Thompson.

The 58-year-old appeared in the North Shore District Court yesterday on a raft of charges relating to the seizure of synthetic drugs police say would have had a street value of $1.5 million.

Thompson, who voluntarily returned from Australia last week just before his arrest, is facing four counts of importing a psychoactive substance as well as charges of manufacturing and possession with intent to sell.

Last week Detective Inspector John Sutton said Thompson's arrest, part of ongoing Operation Tiger targeting the importation of synthetics, was "significant".

Thompson was remanded on bail until his next appearance on conditions including not accessing the internet.

Police are calling on anyone with information about people making or selling synthetic drugs to contact them immediately.

"We need to do more, we need your help," said Waitakere Detective Sergeant Kelly Farrant.

"We need you to tell us who is supplying the drugs that are seriously harming our whanau.

"We can't do this alone.

Farrant said anyone who had information about those making or distributing the drug should call their local police immediately.

"If you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111," she said.

"Our aim is to arrest the people supplying the drug and to help those suffering from the terrible addiction caused by it."

What is synthetic cannabis?

Smokable products containing varieties of plant matter that have been infused with synthetic cannabinomimetic substances.

Examples include the brand Kronic.

They act in a similar way to cannabinoids naturally found in cannabis such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

They were intended to be a legal alternative to cannabis, but are now banned.

Synthetic marijuana acts on the same brain cell receptors as natural marijuana, but are more likely to cause hallucinations and heart problems.

Synthetic marijuana has also been linked to an increased risk of seizures.

Effects include, but are not limited to: decreased motor coordination, fast or irregular heartbeat, disassociation, dizziness, paranoia, psychosis.

Use of synthetic cannabis in New Zealand has also been linked to renal failure and heart failure.

(Source: alcoholdrughelp.org.nz)

Where to get help

If you, or someone you know, is using synthetic cannabis, police urge you to stop immediately and seek help if needed by contacting your local GP or by ringing the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 or text 8681 seven days a week to speak to a trained counsellor.

If you or someone else is in immediate danger call 111.