A hairdresser facing charges in connection with an alleged celebrity cocaine sting in Auckland says the charges are just "rumours" - but his lawyer has confirmed his client will be in court.
The hairdresser, a fashion designer - who both have name suppression - and a senior Hells Angel gang member were the three original targets in Operation Ceviche which led to the seizure of 760g of cocaine, worth $300,000, and $81,000 cash in late August.
Police allege each of the trio were running their own "mini drug supply networks" and among the 13 other people arrested were a male model, a plumber, a clothing distributor and a film production assistant.
Among the alleged cocaine clientele is a stockbroker, an executive, the boss of a large company, a recruitment agency owner, the husband of a TV actress and a personal trainer.
They are named in court documents but have not been charged.
Some also had their hair cut at his salon.
The hairdresser faces 17 Class-A drug charges including possession of cocaine and methamphetamine for supply.
But he denied he had been arrested and said the charges were just "rumours".
"I don't know anything about any cocaine charges; it's not me."
However, defence lawyer Guyon Foley confirmed his client would be appearing in the Auckland District Court next month.
The alleged operation was uncovered after police monitored the phone calls and movements of a Nomad gang sergeant-at-arms which led investigators to two others allegedly running their own "mini drug supply networks" - the hairdresser and a fashion designer.
The covert investigation by the National Organised Crime Group initially focused on Anthony "Ants" Nansen, a senior patched member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
The 33-year-old is the sergeant-at-arms for the gang's Nomads chapter and a champion kickboxer.
He was labelled "dangerous" by the police who warned the public to not approach Nansen when detectives appealed for sightings of him in June.
Nansen has since been arrested and charged with supplying methamphetamine and possessing the Class-A drug for supply.
He has been denied bail and an appeal to the High Court was dismissed this week.
Police were monitoring Nansen's phone calls and movements, which led Operation Ceviche to two others allegedly running their own "mini drug supply networks" - the hairdresser and the fashion designer.
The three phases of the investigation, which lasted several months, ended with police raids in late August and a single seizure of 750g of cocaine and $81,000 cash.
In a press release at the time, Detective Senior Sergeant Lloyd Schmid said the cocaine
was a significant find.
"It's unusual to achieve such a big domestic seizure," said Schmid.
"Cocaine is usually picked up in much smaller amounts, so [the] find is indicative of people who have been heavily involved in persistent, premeditated, career drug dealing."
In total, the police seized almost 760g of cocaine with a street value of more than $300,000.
"These offenders were creating some fairly identifiable cocaine. The drug was being mixed with another substance and moulded into ounce-sized bricks with a hand-made wooden press," said Schmid.
"These people who've been living beyond their means by selling drugs to others, and despite some attempts to conceal their offending, they've now been fully exposed".
Earlier this year, police pulled off the biggest cocaine bust in New Zealand history.
The 35 1kg bricks of high-grade cocaine - worth $14m - were flown into Auckland from Mexico in May, hidden inside a diamante-encrusted statue of a horse's head.
Two men bound for Hawaii were arrested at the Auckland International Airport and now face serious charges of importing a Class-A drug, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.