An alleged Auckland drug ring was discovered after a methamphetamine laboratory blew up forcing a meth cook to go to hospital, claiming he had spilt "hot oil" on his legs, prosecutors say.
Prosecutor Anna Pollett told a jury in the High Court in Auckland today that the explosion in Culperry Rd, Glendene, led to a year-long investigation that culminated in the discovery of 4.4 kilograms of pseudoephedrine, more than $1 million in cash and assets and the arrest of the 12 men on trial.
The group, dubbed "The Drug Trading Company" by prosecutors, are facing 130 charges relating to the manufacture and supply of methamphetamine and the meth precursor, pseudoephedrine, throughout Auckland.
Other charges relate to participating in an organised criminal group, conspiring to pervert the course of justice and possession of cannabis.
One defendant, Justin Lee Abel, has not turned up for trial but Justice Kit Toogood has ruled the trial will continue in his absence.
Pollett said the year-long police investigation, initially called "Shiloh" and later "Jericho", ran from November 2011 to November 2012. It terminated with the discovery of the pseudoephedrine, cash and assets.
Pollett said the defendants were like a corporation.
At the top of the chain were Henry Afakasi and Mario Davoren, – the "executive directors". Afakasi had an oversight role but "very rarely got his hands dirty".
Davoren was "hands-on", a front-line manager who mucked in with the troops, she said.
Ben Kaukasi received proceeds and pooled funds while Vadi Tobia concealed and moved funds, arranged vehicles for the group and provided a storage facility.
Filimaea Sililoto, known as "Mia", assisted in the manufacture of the drug and acted as a driver and courier Jordon Ioane and Foloau Polaulu were involved in the methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine trade and Sione Laungaue, the manufacture and supply of meth.
Pollett said four others were on trial but were outside the core group.
Matthew Kaukasi assisted in one large supply of pseudoephedrine and transported members of the group and supplies.
John Fetu was a "VIP customer" and Christopher Wise and Abel – the absent defendant – were customers who jointly received the 4.4kg of pseudoephedrine.
Pollett said the police investigation began with the explosion of the clan lab which provoked a flurry of text messages between the accused.
"Our s... just blew, honestly", one of the texts read.
Pollett said Sililoto presented at the emergency department soon after with severe burns. He said he had spilt hot oil on his legs.
The trial is scheduled for two months.