A semi-professional footballer is accused of being the ringleader of an international cocaine smuggling ring busted by Auckland police.
Kindness Agwu, a 27-year-old who played for Metro FC and Mangere United, is among nine people facing charges in connection with the multimillion-dollar operation.
Another of the defendants is a personal trainer at an Auckland gym.
He was granted interim name suppression yesterday after his lawyer, Barry Hart, secured a Saturday morning court hearing following an approach for comment from the Herald on Sunday late on Friday.
Police allege Agwu arranged for parcels of cocaine to be sent from Argentina.
They also allege a man picked up the parcels and, along with his partner, arranged for the distribution.
Five of their relatives have also been charged.
Head of the Auckland drug squad Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Cahill alleged the trainer was a "go-between" who let the gym where he worked be used for drug deals.
"He's not a big drug lord, just someone who mixes with a lot of people," he said. "He's quite gregarious.
"People that were coming to the gym were buying coke there," Cahill alleged.
The group are charged with importing 3kg of cocaine into New Zealand between November 9, 2009 and February 10, 2010.
The haul represents about 20 per cent of the cocaine imported into New Zealand in the past nine months.
Over the same period about $500,000 was allegedly laundered overseas through money transfers.
Cahill said police had been trying to "take out the main importers" and believed they had achieved their aim.
Agwu was arrested in September and is also charged with importing and supplying methamphetamine and money laundering.
The trainer is due to reappear in court on February 23.
Speaking at his West Auckland home on Friday he denied any wrongdoing: "I haven't done anything wrong." he said. "They've got nothing on me."
Hart said yesterday the application for name suppression was about "looking after the best interests of my client".
Cahill said cocaine seizures had increased in recent months, with lots of drug mules arrested entering the country from South America.