Verdict due in trial over fake drugs
Three men accused of running a Tongan syndicate conspiring to import and sell methamphetamine - despite the stash never existing - will hear their fate today.
The jury in the case against David Charles Mafi, Douglas David Afeaki and Peter Lawrence Tanginoa yesterday retired to consider a verdict at the High Court in Auckland.
The trial, before Justice Judith Potter has lasted three weeks.
Tanginoa is accused of conspiring to import the class A drug - methamphetamine or P - into New Zealand from Tonga.
Mafi and Afeaki are accused of conspiring to supply P once the drug had landed in the country.
Two other men, Angus Naupoto and William Wolfgram, have also been charged with conspiring to import the drug but are not currently on trial.
All the men have been charged with participating in an organised criminal group.
Importing, manufacturing and possession for supply or dealing P can attract a sentence of life in jail.
At the start of the trial Crown prosecutor David Johnstone told the court the trial was about "pretend drugs these three men thought were real".
"This is not a thought crime - it went beyond that," Johnstone said.
The court heard Naupoto travelled to Tonga and allegedly entered into an agreement with associates to import 20kg of P to New Zealand.
Tanginoa and his cousin, Wolfgram, allegedly enlisted people in New Zealand to invest in the scheme so the group could import the drugs.
Wolfgram then enlisted Afeaki and Mafi who conspired to distribute the methamphetamine for "commercial gain".
Police started investigating the group in July last year.
Tongan police became involved in the investigation and members of the alleged drug syndicate were searched and interviewed.