Harry Potter book drug smuggler jailed
A Lithuanian man who smuggled LSD into New Zealand in a Harry Potter book and masterminded a sophisticated money laundering scheme has been jailed.
Rokas Karpavicius who was extradited to New Zealand to face the charges, was today sentenced at the High Court in Auckland to six years and three months in prison, with a non-parole period of three years.
Karpavicius was found guilty on four charges - one of importing class A controlled drug LSD and three of money laundering - after a jury trial in September.
Justice Graham Lang said the money laundering in which Karpavicius used couriers was closely associated with serious drug offending.
"You were the guiding force and mastermind of the money laundering operation," the judge said.
"You were the person who arranged couriers to come to New Zealand and I have no doubt you knew or encouraged them to use false identities."
Karpavicius imported LSD to a syndicate in New Zealand who would then distribute the drugs before syphoning the money from the drugs back out of the country.
Karpavicius' fingerprints were also found on the Harry Potter book containing LSD intercepted by New Zealand Customs in April 2008. The drug was hidden in the spine of the book.
The investigation into the importation of the drugs started in Australia in February 2008 when police there received information about drugs being sent to Australia in large granite statues, the court heard.
Similar statues had been imported into New Zealand on four occasions between March 2006 and December 2007.
New Zealand police then started monitoring conversations between New Zealander Ronald Terrance Brown and his associates, including a man with a strong European accent - Karpavicius.
The group used iChat and email to communicate.
Brown has since been convicted in relation to the drugs found in the statues. He was Karpavicius' right-hand man who would pick up and distribute the drugs in New Zealand, the court was told.
In terms of the money laundering, Karpavicius and his associates used electronic transactions and people as cash couriers.
Associates of Karpavicius came to New Zealand on several occasions to syphon as much as $2.2 million out of the country by either changing to money into foreign currency or depositing money into a nominated foreign bank account.
The "human couriers" all used false passports to conceal their identities and one was found by police in an Auckland hotel room with more than €100,000 hidden in a laptop bag.
Police, using search warrants, also found a biscuit tin in an ASB vault. In it there were four bundles of $100 notes - a total of $104,000 - and several passports.