A New Zealand criminologist says this country's "well-established" Asian gangs are usually tight-lipped about crime because they are fiercely loyal to each other.

Professor Greg Newbold says this will make it harder for the police to identify who was responsible for the death of Jindarat Prutsiriporn, the bound and gagged Thai woman who hurled herself out of the boot of a moving car in the South Auckland suburb of Papatoetoe on Tuesday night.

Ms Prutsiriporn, 50, died in Middlemore Hospital late on Wednesday night.

Police are treating her death as a homicide. They confirmed she had been involved in the organised crime scene in Auckland and that they were investigating possible gang involvement in her death.


It's known that in 2011, she was sent to jail for two and a half years after pleading guilty to conspiring to import the methamphetamine precursor pseudoephedrine, as well as other drug offences.

Professor Newbold, of Canterbury University, said Asian gangs were really hard to break into.

"They have a great sense of honour and duty to one another and they usually keep their mouth shut," he said.

This was because the gangs were related. "Gangs are usually made up of small groups of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Thai people with family links."

Professor Newbold said that while police might be following leads in the case, if a gang were involved, someone involved in it would need to come forward.

"They [police] will need someone to break rank and for someone to testify in court," he said.

The criminologist said Asian organised crime groups had been in New Zealand since the 1990s and were well established, especially in Auckland.

They were mainly involved in importing pseudoephedrine, counterfeiting, paua smuggling and extortion, Professor Newbold said.


Nowadays, organised crime groups imported drugs, especially pseudoephedrine, a class-B drug.

"There's where the big money is," Professor Newbold said.

He said Ms Prutsiriporn's age made this case unusual. "Most of the kidnapping so far with Asian organised crimes has involved taking young Asians living here. The fact that she is older shows it might be older criminals involved, not wannabe young ones."

Professor Newbold suspected there were a few possible reasons Ms Prutsiriporn was put in the car boot and gagged, if she were involved in a gang.

"She might have ripped someone off, given someone up, or she might have been disloyal," he said.

"The fact that she jumped out of a moving car suggested she was very desperate and frightened."