The trial of the remaining two people allegedly involved in the landing of more than half a tonne of methamphetamine into Ninety Mile Beach has started in the High Court at Whangārei.
Salaima Fakaosilea, 30, and Stevie Norua Cullen, 36, are each facing charges of importing meth and participating in an organised criminal group.
A slight hiccup preceded the start of their five-week trial as three jurors had to be discharged since Monday for various reasons, including sickness, before it finally got underway before Justice Christine Gordon this morning.
On June 5, 2016, a boat was bought in Taipa for $40,000 in cash and on June 9, a group of men tried to launch it on Ninety Mile Beach, which raised the interest of locals, as it was not a spot a boat could be easily launched. The boat was damaged during the launch and another boat was bought in Auckland for $98,000 in cash.
That same night, members of the group returned to Ninety Mile Beach, launched the second boat and picked up 494kg of the drug that had been dropped out to sea. The boat was later found abandoned on the beach.
As police were investigating reports of strange behaviour, two suspects drove past and were chased by officers and arrested. Soon after, police stopped a suspicious looking campervan, which they pulled over and found 449kg of meth inside.
A further 52kg of meth was located buried in sand dunes on Ninety Mile Beach.
Fakaosilea's brother Ulakai, 29, was in December sentenced to 22 years and nine months, with a minimum non-parole period of eight years and nine months. He had been deported from Australia only 10 days before the drugs came ashore.
He was charged with importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal group.