6 Aug 2009

Trial begins for prison drug ring accused

6:40 pm on 6 August 2009

Five people accused of involvement in a drug ring run from Rimutaka Prison have gone on trial in the High Court in Wellington.

Shane Ellis, Gavin Doar, Lele Nuuaea, Timothy Wilkie and Sara McSweeney face a range of charges, including importing methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine for supply.

In his opening address, Crown Prosecutor Simon Barr told the court the case is about the importation of a million dollars' worth of methamphetamine.

He said the idea for the importations originated with a group of prisoners in Rimutaka Prison, including a Thai man who had drug contacts in his home country. Mr Barr said they then enlisted help from people outside the jail to arrange payments and mailing addresses for the drugs.

He said three syndicates were involved in the importations and the methamphetamine was brought into New Zealand hidden in Nivea make-up containers.

In a statement, a Thai drug officer said a raid in that country turned up notebooks with details of New Zealand names and phone numbers, and the New Zealand authorities were alerted. A number of people were subsequently arrested, including the five accused.