Council worker's drug factory
Twenty-three-year-old Chetan Viraj Jethwa had a good job at Hamilton City Council, was a successful bodybuilder and had a beautiful wife.
But his successes pumping iron led to steroid abuse and a partnership with a Christchurch man who would destroy his good character.
It culminated yesterday with a sentence of a year's home detention and 300 hours community service on 12 charges including importing, selling and possession of class C drugs 4-MEC, MDPV, and six Medicine Act charges relating to steroids.
Jethwa, now 24, and allegedly his Christchurch co-accused - who is defending the charges - used the drugs to make party pills similar to ecstasy, with a street value of around $8 million.
The two men - both of whom it was alleged were taking and supplying steroids - met during bodybuilding competitions in 2010.
They then hatched a plan to start selling bulk quantities of party pills containing the class C drugs 4-MEC and MPDV.
Jethwa was in charge of importing the materials and producing the pills, while his co-accused was allegedly the salesman.
Fake identities were created, and numerous cellphones used, to help Jethwa avoid detection.
He imported a $4000 electronic pill press from the United States and set it up in his garage in about October last year.
Three months later, he began importing 4-MEC and MPDV
After a few months, he hired a storage shed using a fake name and driver licence.
He sold pills by the thousands at $6, for a profit of $3 each.
According to police, the pair sold 114,030 pills between January 3 and May 1, 2012, for a total of $684,180 - more than $130,000 a month.
When investigators raided his Bankwood Rd house and Quentin Dr storage shed they found more than $178,000 in cash. Jethwa said it was his share of the profits.
In the High Court at Hamilton yesterday, Crown prosecutor Sheila Cameron said the imported drugs were "defacto" ecstasy. Thirteen packages had been intercepted by customs, with the banned substances found in nine of them.
"Jethwa told police that on the one hand he didn't really know what he was getting into, and on the other hand he was quite [clearly] doing it for money.
"He had a beautiful wife that he wanted to support, so there was a desire for money . . . each [accused] filled a vital role in the enterprise and were dependent upon each other," she said.
Jethwa's counsel, Phil Morgan, QC, said his client was a man who had everything to lose.
Jethwa had an "uneventful and very high quality upbringing . . . who attended a high quality school and university."
He then got into bodybuilding including lawful performance-enhancing drugs. However, he then started using anabolic steroids and he soon met his co-accused.
"He was very susceptible to being told he could make a lot of money if he imported chemicals from websites and turn them into pills and sell them . . . the invention was ridiculously successful."
Mr Morgan said Jethwa had not only lost his much-loved and respected job at the council, but had also had a "fall from grace" in the Hamilton Indian community.
While his family was sticking by him, they were "horrified" by his offending.
In sentencing, Justice Geoffrey Venning accepted Jethwa had expressed "absolute regret and having let everyone who has been a positive influence down".
"You're offending has been a significant fall from grace and your offending has caused embarrassment and concern."
Justice Venning said the scale of offending was "substantial" but gave him full discount credit for his early guilty pleas, remorse and clean history.
He accepted that it was an unusual sentence for such a serious crime but he wanted him to rehabilitate and reintegrate into the community.
"You are a young man and have a full future ahead of you and you are being given a chance by this court."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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