New Zealander Peter Leaitua arrested in Colombia on drug charges
Mother of Kiwi kickboxer arrested over drugs in Colombia says she hasn't had contact with him in months, but thought he had been living in New Zealand.
Kiwi kickboxer Peter Leaitua, who was found not guilty of drug-smuggling in New Zealand, has been arrested in Colombia on drug charges, overseas reports say.
The former Wanganui man his 40s, was stopped by police at Medellin airport as he was wanted by a court in Argentina to face drug trafficking charges, authorities told Colombia Reports on Tuesday.
His mother, Sandy Leaitua, is based in Sydney and says she has not been contacted by her son yet and did not think she would hear from him.
"He's been living in New Zealand for about the last four years. I haven't had contact with him for some months," she said.
"There's no way I'm going to hear from him...I don't think he's in a position to call anybody."
A video was released showing the sportsman pulling a suitcase into an immigration office with Colombian airport police.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade say there's been no approach for consular assistance in relation to this reported arrest.
The Red Noticias news website reported Leaitua as red flagged on the Interpol list, and was "part of a drug trafficking organization formed by Argentina, Peru, Uruguay and Colombia, which transported the drug from Argentina and was bound for Europe and Oceania for marketing".
FORMER DRUG TRIAL
Leaitua was found not guilty of drug-smuggling in New Zealand in 2014, after a lengthy case in the High Court in Auckland.
In 2011, he and his family flew from from Argentina to New Zealand with mother-in-law Sorlinda Aristizabal-Vega.
Leaitua admitted he had met some Colombian drug dealers a week before flying. It was then he learnt of a plan using his mother-in-law as a drug mule. He claimed he'd tried to call it off, and believed Aristizabal-Vega when she told him she wasn't carrying the cocaine.
They all arrived from Buenos Aires on the morning of September 6.
At 5.36am the next day Leaitua dropped Aristizabal-Vega at the Auckland Hospital emergency department. She was dead within an hour from acute cocaine toxity.
Leaitua was accused of importing almost $200,000 worth of cocaine by convincing his mother-in-law to swallow 27 packets of the drug.
Several of the packets had burst insider her, an autopsy revealed.
Not only was Leaitua charged with the importation of cocaine, but also the manslaughter of Aristizabal-Vega.
However, the manslaughter charge was discharged by the High Court before the trial.
His meeting on 30 August in 2011 with three men convicted of being part of an international drug syndicate, was the first time he had met two of them, he claimed.
His defence argued that his mother-in-law had acted alone and the family were relocating to New Zealand.
But the Crown said evidence showed Leaitua was familiar with the convicted men long before his contact in the drug ring arrived at the meeting.
After ten hours of deliberation, a jury decided Leaitua was not guilty on the importation charge.