A Hong Kong man involved in a $40 million drug trade from China to New Zealand has been jailed, the fourth to be sentenced after a sophisticated syndicate was busted.
Last month the Herald revealed details of the intricate operation which began with the recruitment of "drug catchers" in Asia, sent specifically to Auckland to expedite the importation of crystal meth for the New Zealand drug market.
Ka Kit Yim was arrested on March 2 last year while driving his Mercedes-Benz through Auckland. Today he was sentenced at the High Court in Auckland to 11 and a half years in prison for possession of a class A drug for supply.
Yim, who also goes by the name Christopher Yim, was the fourth person sentenced as part of Operation Coral, a covert surveillance sting by the Organised Crime Agency and New Zealand Customs after the discovery of nearly 40kg of meth.
As part of the operation, police found Yim had a further 1kg of methamphetamine and $1.8 million in cash hidden in his luxury sports cars and Auckland properties.
Justice Geoffrey Venning said Yim, who arrived in New Zealand three years ago, was unable to provide an explanation for his lavish lifestyle, which included a Ferrari and Lamborghini, while his role was vital to the importing scheme.
"The more people involved in this the more difficult it is for the authorities to apprehend those involved and locate the methamphetamine," he told the court.
Yim's explanation for the 1kg of meth was that he was holding it for a friend "out of the goodness of [his] heart", Justice Venning said.
He also said Yim's remorse for the offending was "non-existent" and "not a true and insightful remorse at all".
"This court regularly sees the harm that methamphetamine does to members of the community," Justice Venning said.
Investigations into the drug syndicate began after the discovery of 39.6kg of crystal meth hidden in a shipment from China last February.
Justice Venning told Yim that Operation Coral "led the police to you".
The drug scheme began with Taiwan national Tze Te Hung and Chinese man Yen Hua Chen, who had been recruited with the objective of facilitating the importation of vast quantities of meth into New Zealand.
Hung arrived in New Zealand on January 20 last year, later followed by Chen from China on February 10.
A shipment in the form of 28 boxes described as "granite tea trays" arrived soon after on February 21 at the Ports of Auckland.
Four days later the consignment was examined by Customs.
Court documents show the crystals, with a purity of 76 per cent, were the equivalent to 30kg of pure methamphetamine. Customs estimated the shipment had a street value of $40 million.
After the discovery, Customs replaced the majority of the drugs with a placebo and tracked the delivery to its intended address, arriving at the Forrest Hill property where Hung and Chen where living on March 1.
The pair then made arrangements to meet Yim at 9.30pm that night at the carpark of the Sunnynook Countdown supermarket.
The two men parked alongside Yim's Mercedes-Benz and handed him a large plastic bag carrying the repackaged placebo, before Yim left to meet another associate.
However, Yim soon discovered he'd received fake meth, and arranged to again meet Hung and Chen to return it.
Also on March 1, Hung made arrangements to meet Kit Hing Wong, who had travelled from his Wellington home to sample the imported drugs.
The next day, Yim was arrested while driving his Mercedes, and police found a small bag of the placebo in his car.
Later that night, undercover police watched as Wong met with Chen and Hung in the carpark of the Glenfield Mall where Wong was given a sample of the placebo, believing it to be meth.
Wong was arrested shortly after, while police also raided Chen and Hung's rental property, where the pair were found and arrested.
On March 3, police then raided secure car parks, storage units, and luxury vehicles belonging to Yim.
Inside Yim's Lamborghini at a St Lukes storage unit, police found $932,160 in cash, while $550,650 in cash was found inside a BMW.
At a Newmarket apartment complex, 1kg of methamphetamine was discovered, along with an additional $141,940 in a BMW belonging to Yim.
A further $214,708 was found at Yim's Panmure home, bringing the total amount of cash seized to more than $1.8 million.
Last month Hung was sentenced to 13 years and 9 months in prison for his role in importing the class A drug, while Chen was last year sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison.
Both men will be deported at the conclusion of their sentence.
Wong was sentenced in February to home detention and ordered to undergo drug counselling on for conspiracy to possess a class A drug.