Man arrested after two years on run

Last updated 14:13 01/10/2012

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A wanted man on the run for nearly two years has been arrested by police investigating the death of Paeroa pizza shop owner Jordan Voudouris.

However, Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Whitehead said the arrest of Steven Mehrtens, 57, who has been wanted for sentencing on serious drug charges since December 2010, appeared to be unrelated to Voudouris' death.

Mehrtens was caught by police on Sunday following a combined Waikato and Bay of Plenty police operation.

He was today convicted and sentenced to two months' imprisonment when he appeared in the Tauranga District Court on a charge of wilful damage for removing his electronic monitoring bracelet and fleeing.

Mehrtens was remanded in custody and will reappear in the Auckland High Court next Wednesday for sentencing on the drugs charges.

Whitehead said police had learnt of Merhtens' whereabouts during their investigation into Voudouris' death, and had found him living on a small rural property near Katikati, near Tauranga. 

A 51-year-old woman living on the property has been charged with being an accessory after the fact, as police allege she had been assisting Mehrtens to avoid arrest.

She will appear in the Tauranga District Court on October 15.

Mehrtens had originally been arrested and charged in May 2010 as part of Operation Acacia, an investigation into the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine.

He was granted electronically monitored bail, and in December 2010, he breached his bail by removing his monitored bracelet and went into hiding.

Mehrtens later failed to appear for trial on the drugs charges in December 2011, and was convicted in absentia in the High Court at Auckland on a charge of conspiracy to deal methamphetamine, two charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, a charge of possession of methamphetamine for supply, and two charges of selling methamphetamine.

In the meantime, Whitehead said the investigation into Voudouris' death was continuing. Voudouris was shot dead in June, and found in a pool of blood 15 metres from his home and business.

Police have yet to find the person responsible for the homicide.

Anyone with information were urged to contact police.

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