2 Jun 2012

Manslaughter charge over drug death

12:04 pm on 2 June 2012

A man whose mother-in-law died while trying to smuggle cocaine into New Zealand is facing a manslaughter charge.

Sorlinda Aristizabal-Vega, 37, fell ill after arriving in Auckland from Argentina when an internally concealed package burst inside her and died at Auckland Hospital in September.

A post-mortem found she had been carrying at least 26 packages of cocaine totalling more than half a kilogram. The drugs were worth up to $190,000.

After the death, police charged Ms Aristizabal-Vega's son-in-law Peter Leaitua with importing cocaine.

Crown prosecutor David Johnstone says Mr Leaitua now faces a new charge of manslaughter and will appear in court later in June.

He is scheduled to be tried on the importation of cocaine charge in November.