Runaway P kingpin jailed for 17 years
A Whangamata man who was on the run for almost two years after being arrested in a multi-million dollar methamphetamine bust has been jailed for more than 17 years.
Steven John Mehrtens was today sentenced to 17 years and nine months at the High Court in Auckland on charges he was convicted of last year.
The 57-year-old was arrested with his co-accused, Scott Warren Filer, and charged in May 2010 as part of Operation Acacia.
He was later released on electronically monitored bail, but shortly before his trial in December 2010, he cut off his monitoring bracelet and went on the run.
Mehrtens was convicted in absentia of conspiracy to deal methamphetamine, two of manufacturing methamphetamine, a charge of possession of methamphetamine for supply and two of selling methamphetamine.
Almost a year later, in September 2012, he was arrested in a combined Waikato and Bay of Plenty police operation.
Mehrtens, of Whangamata, had claimed to have only acted as a courier for Filer, transporting pre-cursor drugs and a "small amount" of methamphetamine from Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula.
But Justice Patrick Keane today rejected that claim.
Justice Keane ordered the forfeiture of items found on Mehrtens during his arrest in 2010.
The court heard Mehrtens had a "harmful pattern of drug abuse" which he claimed to have "under control" despite using one gram or more of the class A drug daily.
A lack of regret and remorse for his offending was clear when he failed to turn up to his own trial, the court heard.