An elaborate police operation snared four alleged drug dealers after they delivered $40,000 worth of methamphetamine to a customer in New Plymouth.
Up to 25 armed police kept watch from various lookouts in Fitzroy as the deal unfolded, a jury in the New Plymouth District Court was told yesterday.
Armed offenders squad members busted in the door at the home of Fitzroy man Tommy White who, police say, had just purchased 25.9 grams of meth from the Auckland drug couriers.
Oscar Chand, 42, his daughter Maxien Chand, 23, and her partner Halen Ryder, 27, deny supplying the class A controlled drug methamphetamine to White on August 24.
Maxien Chand and Ryder, along with Daniel Pue, 21, are also charged with illegal possession of a loaded revolver on the same day. All three have pleaded not guilty to the firearms charge.
All four of the accused were living in Auckland at the time.
The arrests came after police had been bugging White's landlines and cellphones in a covert electronic surveillance codenamed Operation Ebony, the jury heard.
Prosecutor Justin Marinovich said Oscar Chand was the mastermind of the drug deal.
He was using his daughter, Maxien Chand, and her partner, Ryder, accompanied by another daughter, Jessica, to transport the meth to White in New Plymouth.
The deal was intercepted by police when text and landline communications implicated White and Oscar Chand in the movement of meth, Mr Marinovich said.
As a result about 25 armed police were called in about 1am on August 24 and positioned throughout Fitzroy to keep watch and await the arrival of Oscar Chand's Jaguar.
One officer saw the Jaguar parked up the road from White's house and a detective saw two people go into White's home then leave.
Armed offenders squad members set up a roadblock and arrested the four people in the Jaguar, including Maxien Chand, Ryder and Daniel Pue, at gunpoint.
Moments later they broke into White's Fitzroy Rd home and handcuffed and arrested him.
When the Jaguar was searched, police found $40,000, neatly folded with coloured rubber bands around the notes, in Maxien Chand's handbag.
Similar coloured rubber bands were found in drawers in White's home.
In the footwell of the Jaguar, police found a revolver with all chambers loaded. They also found weighing scales.
A search of White's house found a significant amount of meth and later the same day a ditched bag of meth was also discovered in the gutter opposite White's home.
The meth was found near where White was put in a police car after his arrest, Mr Marinovich said.
More than 25 grams of methamphetamine was seized along with cannabis.
Officer in charge Detective Sue Ashton agreed with Maxien Chand's lawyer, Kylie Pascoe, that there were no references in her client's texts referring to methamphetamine, quantities or weights. It could also not be confirmed whether Maxien Chand was using her own cellphone or that of someone else when texts were sent or received, Ms Ashton agreed. And there was no forensic evidence tying Maxien Chand to the meth or the gun.
Ms Ashton also agreed that police could not rule out that the $40,000 was not in the car prior to leaving Auckland.
During re-examination from Mr Marinovich, Ms Ashton said the rubber bands around the $40,000 could be linked to White because the distinctive yellow, blue and pinky-red bands used were the same colours as those found in a set of drawers in White's home.
The trial continues today.
- Taranaki Daily News
Where do you buy most of your books nowadays?Related story: Online sales final page for independent bookshop