A drug dealer brought six kilograms of methamphetamine into Gisborne during nine months when he was under police surveillance in 2017, a jury in Gisborne District Court has heard.
He could have made up to $3 million from the drugs, depending on how they were sold, the jury was told.
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Lucky Te Waata Campbell, 43, has since admitted his offending and been convicted but three women accused of assisting him to distribute those drugs deny any involvement.
At the start of a trial for the women yesterday, Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker told the jury offending on the scale admitted by Lucky Campbell never involved just one person.
The women — Lucky's wife Loretta Tohungarau Campbell, 40, his cousin Kathleen Paul Campbell, 35, and an associate Michaela Patricia Irwin, 23 — were netted along with Lucky Campbell during the police drug operation Pinyin, between May 2017, and January 2018.
They face 70 charges between them and the jury will be expected to reach a verdict on each of them. Evidence is expected to run well into next week.
In a three-hour opening address, Walker said the verdicts would depend on how jurors interpreted text message data and recordings of intercepted communications, gathered as part of the police operation.
Twelve Crown witnesses, 11 of them police, will include a police officer specialising in drug terminology. Walker pointed to examples among the evidential messages, of terminology the expert would say referred specifically to meth dealing.
While there was also reference to cannabis offending in the communications — and at least one defendant was likely to contend that was all she might ever have spoken about, the Crown submitted the subject of the messages was predominantly the meth trade.
The defence positions are not yet known. Opening statements are optional and if elected, will be made by the defendant's lawyers this morning.
Summarising the Crown theory and specific allegations against the women, Walker submitted Loretta Campbell was essentially her husband's business partner.
She faces the same charges of possessing methamphetamine for supply, as those on which he was convicted but she is charged on a lesser, party, basis.
Each of the seven charges against her represents trips Lucky Campbell made to his suppliers in Auckland between August and November 2017, during which he usually "restocked" with about a kilogram of meth at a time.
Walker explained the charges referred to "possession for supply" because they represented acquisitions of the drug. To refer to all actual incidents of alleged "supply" would have been impossible. But the charges were laid on the understanding by the defence that basis on-supply would have occurred.
Loretta only accompanied Lucky on one trip to Auckland and it was accepted she never directly made acquisitions from suppliers, but she supported Lucky in various ways, Walker said.
She booked motels, and paid road toll fees. When suppliers gave Lucky the runaround, she encouraged him to persist and suggested potential alternative contacts, Walker alleged.
In Gisborne, she helped package quantities of meth and took it to distributors or gave it to them when they came to the couple's home. She communicated with Lucky in coded meth' terminology, Walker said. He pointed to a message in which the Crown says she referred to a small amount of meth as a "single" and electronic weigh scales as a "bible".
"Are these two singles in the bag 'cos I can't find the bible?" she allegedly wrote.
She discreetly ferried Lucky to and from a studio unit at the former Gisborne Motel complex, which was rented in Lucky's name and for which she paid the rent. The Crown says the unit was used to store the meth and was referred to by Lucky Campbell as the "bat cave". He claimed it was his refuge from the couple's rocky relationship.
When the police operation was terminated, officers found about 960 grams of meth and $10,000 cash at the "bat cave".
On arrest, Loretta was found with the swipe card for a Gisborne Self-Storage unit, which was in her name and for which she paid the rent. When police searched that unit, they found about $460,000 in two boxes among a large amount of furniture. It could be inferred from text messages there might have been more but that Lucky had perhaps already uplifted some of the money.
Acrimonious texts between them showed Lucky and Loretta had at least temporarily separated around that time. Texts Lucky sent included him saying, "our empire stops here", that Loretta was "set for life" and that he at least wanted his half, Walker said.
Soon after, the couple were seen via the storage complex's closed circuit television system meeting up at their storage unit and Lucky leaving with a bag and box, the contents of which were unknown to police.
Walker said the communications relied on by the Crown could also be interpreted by the jury as evidence of Irwin's and Kathleen Campbell's involvement in Lucky and Loretta's alleged methamphetamine enterprise.
Irwin is alleged to have been a second-level dealer and faces 45 charges of possessing meth' for supply, each referencing a date on which she was alleged to have got amounts of the drug - usually ounce lots - from the Campbell's for further distribution.
Found by police at Irwin's Rutene Rd address was 14.3 grams of meth, cut with another substance, and packaged for sale as gram or two-gram lots.
Police were able to identify times Kathleen Campbell actually supplied the drug and she faces 18 charges of doing so.
Kathleen, the Crown says, was an intermediary or a go-between, allegedly performing that role on two occasions when Lucky and Loretta were out of town — four days in August, 2017, and for about 10 days from December, 2017, through to January, 2018.
Judge Warren Cathcart is presiding and the trial is proceeding.