Two more of those involved in the landing of more than half a tonne of methamphetamine on 90 Mile Beach in 2016 have received long prison sentences.
Ulakai Fakaosilea and Jeremiah Iusitini were jailed for 22 years and nine months and 25 years and seven months respectively when they appeared before Justice Simon Moore in the High Court at Whangārei. Iusitini will serve a minimum non-parole period of 10 years, the same as co-offender Malachi Tuilotolava, who was jailed for 24 years in October.
They were among eight men who collected 501kg of methamphetamine 12km offshore after launching a boat at Ahipara. The meth, with an estimated street value of up to $150 million, was found by police over the next two days.
Fakaosilea entered New Zealand on June 2, 2016, after being deported from Australia. Three days later he drove two co-offenders, including Ka Yip Wan, from South Auckland to Kaitaia, where he met up with four co-offenders.
On June 12 he helped unload the boat, later found abandoned on the beach, and hide the 20kg bags. The following day police discovered about 50kg of metham-phetamine concealed in sand dunes near where the boat came ashore, the remainder being found in a campervan that was stopped by police at Totara North.
Justice Moore disagreed with Fakaosilea's counsel that his actions had been those of a "mule", but Iusitini was deemed as having had a more senior role.
He, Tuilotolava and another associate had flown from Auckland to Bangkok in February, returning on May 6. He had not been present at the landing, but had communicated via text message with the others to purchase items including metal tool boxes and to hire a campervan.
He subsequently received texts from a co-offender stating "We algood uso! Everything is sweeeet!"
Justice Moore said other texts revealed how others in the group had reported back to him.
"That can only be because they regarded you as an important and influential cog in this enterprise," he said.
"You were involved in the plans for at least the month leading up to the events of 11 and 12 June 2016. You clearly had detailed knowledge of the plan, and I accept you acted, at least at times, as a co-ordinator.
"While I am not satisfied these messages prove you were the overall leader or director, or even more senior than all your other co-offenders, as the Crown submits, I am satisfied you were an important and influential member of this operation."
Fakaosilea's attempt to flee to Thailand on June 14 was an aggravating factor, he added. (He had been stopped from entering Bangkok, and returned to New Zealand three days later.)