Two more of those who played a part in the importing of half a tonne of methamphetamine via 90 Mile Beach in 2016 have been convicted in the High Court at Whangārei.
Stevie Norua Cullen (36) and Selaima Fakaosilea (30) denied but were convicted on charges of importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal group, both carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
For just over six weeks the jury of four men and eight women heard evidence of the biggest importation of methamphetamine in New Zealand, but took less than six hours to make their decision.
Justice Christine Gordon convicted the pair and remanded them in custody for sentencing in Whangārei on July 12.
Members of Cullen and Fakaosilea's families were in the public gallery, some of them in tears, as the guilty verdicts were delivered. Fakaosilea waved to her family and said "I love you" as she was led away from the dock.
Six people, including Fakaosilea's brother, Ulakai Fakaosilea, had previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the importation, and have been sentenced. Ulakai Fakaosilea and Jeremiah Iusitini were jailed for 22 years and nine months and 25 years and seven months respectively in the High Court at Whangārei in December, with Iusitini to serve a minimum non-parole period of 10 years, the same as co-offender Malachi Tuilotolava, who was jailed for 24 years in October.
Meanwhile the court had heard that police recovered 501kg of methamphetamine on June 19, 2016, some of it buried in dunes behind 90 Mile Beach but the bulk of it, 448kg, found in a campervan at Totara North. The haul had an estimated street value of almost half a billion dollars.
Cullen claimed he thought he was on a trip to scatter a friend's ashes at sea, and that he knew nothing of a drug importation and was not involved in an organised criminal group. The Crown, however, said he had had full knowledge of what was happening, and was responsible for logistical tasks relating to the importation, including organising hotel rooms and participating in meetings when plans were discussed.
He had also been involved in a failed bid to launch a boat at Ahipara on June 9, 10 days before the seizures.
Evidence was produced that Cullen had researched places to launch a boat, liaised with Far North locals, and was present when the boat with methamphetamine on board landed on the beach north of Waipapakauri Ramp.
Fakaosilea did not give evidence, her defence being that she had not been in Northland when the methamphetamine arrived and had no knowledge of the importation.
The Crown said she had had an embedded role in the criminal group, organising the hiring of vehicles, satellite phones and the transportation of two men to the Far North.