A corrupt former Auckland cop leaked police intelligence about a $50 million Mexican drug importation scheme, court documents reveal.
Vili Taukolo was last week jailed for offences committed while acting as a highly-paid informant for the criminal underworld.
Now, after court documents were released to the Herald, details of one of the classified investigations leaked using the police's national intelligence application system (NIA) can be reported.
In November 2017, a massive $50m consignment of methamphetamine arrived in Christchurch via airfreight from Mexico.
Police and Customs stopped the shipment and found some 49kg of the drug concealed within safety lights. It was the largest-ever seizure of meth in the South Island.
A covert two-week sting, code-named Operation Grandeur, then led to armed police raids on several properties in Christchurch and Auckland.
One of those arrested by police lived in Mangere.
Nearly a year later, on October 18, 2018, Taukolo searched the address of the man on the NIA.
The Auckland constable, however, was on annual leave at the time.
After finding the man, the crooked cop made several queries for his co-defendants, details about the progress of the investigation and for information which had been provided in confidence to Crimestoppers.
The 31-year-old then viewed "a large number" of documents linked to the investigation, court papers show.
On October 24 he again accessed intel for the same investigation, this time while at work and on a late shift. He spent more than two hours viewing the sensitive documents.
Three days later Taukolo returned to the NIA's information about the drug bust - again while on a late shift.
But this time it was for just three minutes - Taukolo was quickly printing nine documents.
The following day, October 28, the corrupt officer again returned to the computer files to print a further eight documents.
Taukolo, who graduated from police college at the end of 2016 and began work as a sworn officer in South Auckland, also made further inquiries about the investigation on November 3 and November 17.
When police searched his home at 7am on March 25 this year they found $30,000 of bundled cash in a bedroom drawer.
Under his mattress were several NIA documents.
A $10,000 cash deposit receipt for a car from January was also found in his bedroom.
Police analysis of Taukolo's bank accounts later revealed cash deposits of more than $12,000 during January and February this year, court documents read.
Taukolo, who was formerly a deputy registrar of the High Court, had been caught after irregularities in his use of the NIA were discovered and led to an audit by police.
The audit identified more than 20,0000 queries between November 2017 and March this year.
Of those, more than 4500 were made on dates when Taukolo was not working, while 1200 were on days when he was on leave or had reported in sick.
Some 2500 other queries where made an hour either side of his shift.
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Taukolo also made queries about 34 other police officers and viewed personal information about them such as their address, vehicles and "occurrences linked to them", court documents show.
Before he was sentenced to two years and two months' imprisonment, Prosecutor David Johnstone said the corrupt cop "must have been attracted to the reward he would get" for acting as a mole.
In all, he said, Taukolo was paid about $70,000 by organised criminals.
While Taukolo's leaks did not compromise a specific police operation his corruption must have at the very least drained some faith for the public to have in its police force, Johnstone said.
Taukolo, who started his police career as an authorised officer in courthouses, resigned earlier this year after the allegations emerged.
Superintendent Karyn Malthus, the Auckland City District Commander, said Taukolo's actions were "disgraceful".
"Police staff rightly feel betrayed by him," she said in a statement after sentencing. "To say that I am disappointed in his actions is an understatement."
Not only was Taukolo breaching people's privacy, including some of his own colleagues, he was committing a serious criminal offence each time, she added.
"Police officers spent months analysing the information accessed by Mr Taukolo on NIA. The investigation was exhaustive in nature and only concluded recently," Malthus said.
"Every one of his NIA transactions over the period of his offending were analysed individually to assess whether it was a legitimate or illegitimate query."
No safety concerns were evident for the majority of individuals Taukolo searched, Malthus said, while Taukolo acted alone and no other police officers were found to be involved.
"As a result of this incident, a comprehensive internal review has been conducted to examine our processes and establish if there are any changes we can implement to prevent this type of offending from taking place in the future, and this work remains ongoing."
Civil restraining orders against Taukolo, under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, were also earlier granted by the High Court.
The NIA holds details about police investigations, people's vehicles, locations, phone numbers and criminal histories.
There are nearly 2 million people, just over 40 per cent of the New Zealand population, who appear in the NIA with an alert against their name.