A businessman charged with smuggling 5kg of cocaine earlier bought a quarter share in a Colombian bar and promised to staff it with Kiwis.
Tony Wilkinson, 42, and his girlfriend Kirsty Harris, 25, were formally charged in a federal court in the US last week with possession of cocaine to distribute after being arrested on the Aurora cruise ship in San Francisco on January 25. They entered not guilty pleas but have indicated they may change their pleas.
Wilkinson, who formerly owned bars in Ponsonby, went into partnership with Colombian Luis Alberto Rodgers Barrios last May.
Speaking from Colombia, Barrios said Wilkinson approached him to buy a 25 per cent stake of his Balcon De La Salsa bar in the resort town of Cartagena, a notorious spot on drug trafficking routes.
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Barrios said Wilkinson promised to bring bartenders from New Zealand to work in the bars.