#1 2019-05-04 22:20

Registered: 2019-04-01
Posts: 165

[NEWS] Christchurch men admit importing 40kg of meth from Mexico

Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/112313782/christchurch-men-admit-importing-40kg-of-meth-from-mexico

Two Christchurch men who imported nearly 40 kilograms of methamphetamine from Mexico in a shipment of safety lights have begun significant jail terms.

Bail was refused when Johnathan James Seal, 26, of Shirley, and Michael Harrison Cooper, 33, of Northwood, pleaded guilty to the importation charges in the High Court at Christchurch on Monday, a week before their 10-day trial was to begin.

The pair were arrested in November 2017 as part of the police and customs Operation Grandeur investigation.

Since their arrest, the amount of drugs involved has been reduced from 49kg to 39.7kg.

When the police made arrests in 2017 after a series of raids on properties in Christchurch and Auckland, they said the larger amount of drugs had a potential street value of $50 million and the seizure prevented an estimated $60.71m of additional community harm.

At the time, it was said to be the largest seizure of methamphetamine in the South Island.


The court was told on Monday that Customs took control of an imported consignment of 20 boxes of safety lamps weighing 250kg on November 1, 2017. It had arrived in Christchurch from Mexico via the United States, on a Singapore Airlines flight.

Customs found each box contained a safety lamp with two packages of methamphetamine hidden in the base of each lamp. Each package weighed 1.1kg to 1.2kg, and the total weight was 39.7kg.

Cooper and Seal took part in the planning and documentation for the importation and liaised regularly after its arrival. They communicated using "burner phones" – generally prepaid cellphones used for a specific purpose then disposed of – which they bought for the importation.

Cooper completed the importation application documents but substituted another address for his own, and used a different phone number for completion of the form.

Seal contacted the freight forwarding company, asking about the consignment and giving details about the delivery address. He co-ordinated the payment of duty and GST.


Police and customs carried out a controlled delivery on November 9, 2017, after removing all but 10 grams of the methamphetamine and substituting it with a similar looking substance.

Seal picked up one of the boxes and took it home, and then Cooper took it to his own address in Northwood.

Police and Customs staff raided both addresses soon after. At Cooper's house, police saw him trying to flush the substance in his upstairs bathroom.

Cooper would not make any comment to police, but Seal said the safety lamps were to be installed at a car park in the city. He did not know where the car park was. He described himself as "a patsy".

Justice Cameron Mander told the pair jail terms were inevitable because of the seriousness of the offences, and remanded them in custody while pre-sentence reports were prepared for their sentencing on May 29.

No estimated street value of 39.7kg of drugs was given to the court on Monday.

Counsel for Cooper, Pip Hall QC, said the sentencing date might have to be delayed because the Court of Appeal was considering a new guideline judgment that would set sentencing "bands" for drugs cases depending on their seriousness.

A third person has also been charged and is due for trial in August.

What you do in life echoes in eternity...

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