A police investigation into the homicide of Paeroa pizza man Jordan Voudouris has turned up a methamphetamine cook on the run from police for more than two years on serious drugs charges.
Steven John Mehrtens, 57, was arrested at a Katikati property on Sunday.
He had been wanted since December 2010 after breaching electronic bail while awaiting trial on methamphetamine charges and in December 2011 was found guilty of cooking significant amounts of methamphetamine.
Police spokesman Ross Henderson said police "were keeping an open mind" about a possible link between the Voudouris homicide and the drug world.
"We can't comment on that specifically [though]," he said.
It was through inquiries into the Voudouris case that the whereabouts of Mehrtens came to light, Mr Henderson said.
"He was one of a number of people of interest who came up in the Voudouris investigation," he said.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Whitehead, head of Operation Olive, the taskforce set up to investigate the Voudouris killing, said the arrest "appeared unrelated" to the homicide inquiry.
Mr Whitehead said Mehrtens had originally been arrested and charged in May 2010 as part of Operation Acacia, a police investigation into the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine.
Mr Whitehead said Mehrtens subsequently failed to appear for trial on the drugs charges in December 2011, and was convicted in absentia at the High Court in 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.
Mehrtens was convicted yesterday and sentenced to two months' imprisonment when he appeared in Tauranga District Court on a charge of wilful damage for removing his electronic monitoring bracelet and fleeing.
He was remanded in custody and will reappear in the High Court at Auckland next Wednesday for sentencing on the drugs charges.
A 51-year-old woman living on the property had allegedly been helping Mehrtens hide from police. She has been charged with being an accessory after the fact.
The woman will appear in Tauranga District Court on October 15.
Meanwhile, Mr Whitehead said the investigation into Mr Voudouris' death continued and police still wanted to hear from anyone with information.
Contact the Operation Olive team on 07 862 8744, or anonymously via CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111. firstname.lastname@example.org
- © Fairfax NZ News
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