Sentencing for the ringleader of a drug operation that produced the largest amount of methamphetamine ever cooked in New Zealand has started in the High Court at Whangarei.

Brownie Harding, 38, entered guilty pleas in the High Court at Auckland last June to six charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, one of possessing methamphetamine for supply, one of supplying pseudoephedrine, two of conspiracy to supply methamphetamine and one of participating in an organised criminal group.

At least 9kg of meth with a street value of between $3.2 million and $4.5 million was cooked over 10 weeks in a property in Taipuha Rd at Waiotira, between Whangarei and Paparoa, between September and December 2014.

Police raided the property and arrested 14 people after watching drug cooking and distribution activities for seven months during their covert investigation dubbed Operation Easter. He is being sentenced by Justice Simon Moore.

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The maximum penalty for manufacturing meth is life in jail and the Crown is asking the judge to impose that sentence.