A Rebels Outlaw motorcycle gang member has been jailed for nine years for his role in smuggling more than $1 million of methamphetamine across Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry.

Daryn Bruce Catley, 31, was sentenced this morning in the High Court at Auckland after his arrest in September 2015 as part of Operation Tea.

Police began investigating after suspecting large amounts of methamphetamine were being sourced in Auckland by organised criminal groups and transported to Christchurch by air and vehicles.

In Auckland, late on September 13, 2015, Catley gave his co-offender, Stephen Hames Harland, a black Nike bag full of meth and instructed him to drive a rental car to Christchurch, court documents show.

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Catley was to travel to Christchurch separately and meet Harland to secure the drugs.

The following morning Harland drove to Wellington to board the Interislander ferry to Picton at 8.30pm.

But at midnight, as Harland drove off the ferry and on to the Picton wharf, armed police swooped.

Inside the Nike bag was 1.15kg of meth, worth $1.15m on the street, a further $2930 and three cellphones.

But the Interislander bust was just the start of a joint police operation and one hour later police stormed Catley's Christchurch home, known to be the Rebels club rooms.

Darren Catley was a member of the Rebels Outlaw motorcycle gang. Photo / Facebook
Darren Catley was a member of the Rebels Outlaw motorcycle gang. Photo / Facebook

A sawn-off .22 rifle was found, along with a small amount of meth, more than $5200, and Rebels paraphernalia.

Later that morning another home in Greenlane, Auckland, also listed to Catley, was raided and 12.5g of meth was found, some in plastic lock bags; along with several glass "P" pipes, scales, $152,100 of cash in a wardrobe safe, $6790 strewn across the lounge, and $4000 in a Subaru.

Catley was also found to be in possession of a Taser.

In court, defence counsel Mathew Goodwin disputed the Crown's calculation for the value of the meth in the Nike bag.

He said estimates from 2015 show that, per gram, meth was $600 to $700.

However, Goodwin and the Crown accepted there was a level of sophistication to the drug trade.

But the court heard that the kingpin of the operation has escaped prosecution for the trade because of a lack of evidence linking him to the crimes.

"The person that rented the car for Mr Harland, both parties agree, is at the top level of the chain. He's in charge of everything," Goodwin said.

He added Catley was a "raging" meth addict and was brought into the drug operation "late in the piece".

Police suspected large amounts of methamphetamine were being shipped from Auckland to Christchurch, including in vehicles on the Interislander. Photo / Ross Setford
Police suspected large amounts of methamphetamine were being shipped from Auckland to Christchurch, including in vehicles on the Interislander. Photo / Ross Setford

"He dipped his paws into it and [that's why] his fingerprints are on the packages."

Justice Mark Woolford said although Catley wasn't the top dog in the trade he was "certainly involved in the logistical chain".

"You had some leadership role in the gang. Either way I'm satisfied that you played a meaningful role."

The judge said Catley was the "treasurer" for the Rebels and trusted with significant amounts of money.

"Even if higher members were involved, senior members imposed significant trust and responsibility in you."

However, when sentencing Catley, Woolford said there were genuine elements of remorse and noted Catley's addiction motivated him to offend.

"You can relate to what your drug customers are going through given your own use. Methamphetamine offending has an enormous impact on society."

He said Catley's family, of whom his mum, dad and aunt were in court, wanted to see him "change in the future and head down a different course".

Goodwin said his client had kicked his drug habit after time in custody, despite the "temptations in the prison system".

After Catley was sentenced on his three drugs and one weapons-related charges, he was led away to the cells, past his tearful family in the public gallery.

Woolford asked the young man's emotional mother to offer her son "continuing support".

Harland is due to be sentenced next week.