18 Oct 2016

Another six years for jailed drug kingpin

4:12 pm on 18 October 2016

An Egyptian man who ran a methamphetamine importation ring while in prison for importing cocaine has been ordered to spend at least six years and seven months in jail.

Mohamed Atta, 40, was sentenced today in the High Court in Wellington on seven representative charges of importing methamphetamine, and one charge of conspiracy to supply the drug, to which he earlier pleaded guilty.

He was arrested as part of Operation Gandalf, a police investigation targeting the importation and distribution of methamphetamine in New Zealand.

Justice Collins said, while in Rimutaka Prison, Atta facilitated the importation through his contacts in Thailand and was paid $5000 for each consignment.

"The Crown describes you as the mastermind of the offending. You were at the centre of it in New Zealand and were the only defendant involved in every single charge and you coordinated the offending in a significant way."

The large quantity of drug imported and the scale of the operation run by Atta were aggravating features of his offending, he said.

A 61-year-old nurse, whose name has been suppressed, was also sentenced to 10 months home detention for laundering more than $340,000 of Atta's drug money.

Duane Te Hau, a 27-year-old man who was also involved in the offending targeted by the operation, was jailed for five years and 10 months on two charges of importing methamphetamine.

The authorities intercepted a package sent to his home address in Rotorua which contained 98g of methamphetamine with a street value of $98,000.

He then arranged for a replacement package to be sent to the Rotorua address, which contained 100g of methamphetamine.

Te Hau's lawyer, Bruce Hesketh, said his client had had a tumultuous upbringing and become involved with drugs at an early age, smoking cannabis from the age of seven and beginning to use methamphetamine when he was 13.

Justice Collins said planning and pre-meditation were aggravating features of Te Hau's offending.

"You on-sold the imported methamphetamine in the second package... You supplied addresses and collected the package and though not the mastermind, you played a key role in allowing the importation to occur."