Drug ring gang leaders jailed

Last updated 11:25 19/12/2012

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Gang members at the centre of a methamphetamine ring based in the Manawatu – Whanganui – Horowhenua areas are jailed for at least 10 years each.

In the High Court at Wellington today the ring-leader Craig Wayne Matthews, 38, was sentenced to 11 years eight months’ jail.

A former Tribesmen member who switched to the Rebels, Matthews has also forfeited more than $250,000 cash, 10 motor vehicles and five motorcycles, including three Harley Davidsons.

Matthews, a father of three, pleaded guilty to three charges of supplying methamphetamine and two charges of manufacturing the drug.

Justice Ronald Young said the operation had a turnover of about $700,000 in less than 12 months, involving up to 1.6kg of methamphetamine.

Four of the 31 people arrested after the police Operation Stamp were sentenced today.

The combined total of imprisonment for key figures from Stamp is now about 65 years, a police spokesman said.

Police had seized 36 vehicles including Mercedes, BMWs, and a Hummer, $400,000 in cash, firearms, and 450g of methamphetamine.

"This operation has made a significant dent in the distribution of methamphetamine in the Central District,’’ Detective Inspector Chris Bensemann said.

The operation was the culmination of several months of covert policing and produced evidence of inter-gang cooperation in illegal business, and the increased presence of the Rebels gang in New Zealand, police said.

Also sentenced today was Palmerston North tattooist Herre van Niekerken, 39. The father of eight was jailed for nine years and six months.

Van Niekerken has forfeited about $30,000, including a gold Pandora bracelet, valued at $9237, that he bought for his partner. Van Niekerken also loses a Harley Davidson he bought as a wreck and rebuilt.

He had pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply methamphetamine and supplying the drug.

Van Niekerken’s gang involvement had originally been with the Nomads, then the Tribesmen and finally the Rebels.

In a neighbouring court room Jeremy ‘‘Jed” Shane Horne, 41, was today jailed for 10 years and four months.

He was found guilty last month of two charges of possession of methamphetamine, and one each of manufacture of methamphetamine, possessing materials used in manufacturing and possessing precursor substances.

Justice Joe Williams said Horne’s involvement in the ring was smaller than Matthews’.

Family members sobbed in the public gallery as the judge indicated a starting point of 10 years – the lowest he was able to go.

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“This stuff is poison and you know it because I bet you know people whose lives are ruined by it,’’ the judge said.

But he also acknowledged Horne was a ‘‘strong family man’’ who had done good things for the Murupara community.

Horne’s lawyer Peter Coles said Horne had ‘‘revered’’ his older brother and stepped into his role in the Tribesmen gang after his death.

His cousin, Anthony Makete Te Moni, 42, was sentenced to six months’ community detention plus 160 hours’ community work.

A car that had been in his control had been used as a clan-lab. Te Moni had driven Horne around in exchange for methamphetamine for personal use and petrol money.

The judge accepted this did not amount to ‘‘commerciality’’.

- Stuff

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