A Polish man who is one of a global group accused of a multimillion-dollar drug and money-laundering conspiracy has had three of his four charges dropped.
Patryk Lukasik, 43, was extradited from Germany to New Zealand in 2019 after being arrested following Interpol issuing a global wanted notice.
Today he appeared in the High Court at Auckland, where three of his four money-laundering charges were dismissed by Justice Mathew Downs.
He will now go to trial on the remaining charge alongside Russian sailor Aleksandr Cherushev, who was arrested at Nelson's port last year on the container ship Seatrade Red after a three-year worldwide search, and fellow Polish man Ryszard Wilk, who was extradited from Venezuela last year.
The trio are accused of being key players in an international drug ring involving a mystery West African mastermind, who allegedly conspired to import $1.2 million worth of cocaine into New Zealand onboard a food vessel in 2016.
The Herald earlier revealed extensive details of the nearly two-year National Organised Crime Group investigation into the alleged plot, code-named Operation Moa.
It involved at least 10 people, with authorities investigating from New Zealand to Europe, and South America.
It also included police phone taps and covert surveillance teams, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, international money transfers and a treasure map to $130,000 of buried cash at Auckland's Bastion Point.
Others arrested by police during Operation Moa have already made their way through the courts, including Ryszard Wilk's son Ralph.
Ralph Wilk pleaded guilty to representative charges of supplying cocaine and money laundering after coming to an agreement with prosecutors to drop an drug importation allegation on the eve of his trial in 2018.
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He was jailed for eight years and five months in October that year, a sentence which was upheld by the Court of Appeal two months ago.
Local builder and "bag man" Bryan Williams and Auckland IT engineer Mohammed Khan, who helped launder dirty money, have also both been sentenced to home detention.
Another member of the group, a woman who worked at a money remittance company on Queen St was also charged with money laundering. Last June, a jury found Qiannan (Christina) Tang guilty of one charge but acquitted her on a remaining eight counts.
She was later discharged without conviction.