Source: New Zealand Police
Attribute to Detective Senior Sergeant Lloyd Schmid, National Organised Crime Group:
New Zealand Police acknowledge today’s sentencing at the High Court in Whangarei for Stevie Cullen and Selaima Fakaosilea for their involvement in the country’s largest-ever meth seizure.
In June 2016, Northland Police uncovered a record 501 kilograms of meth after a boat was found abandoned on 90 Mile beach.
The majority of meth seized was located in a rental caravan, while a further haul was discovered buried in sand dunes on the beach.
Following the seizure, a significant operation – named Operation Frontia – was launched in Kaitaia led by the National Organised Crime Group and assisted by Northland CIB and Customs.
The police investigation revealed an organised criminal group was behind the importation of the record haul of meth.
A total of eight people were arrested over the course of the investigation. Six men were previously convicted and sentenced in court after pleading guilty to meth importation, while Cullen and Fakaosilea were found guilty following a trial.
The largest sentence handed down to one of the offenders involved was 27 years imprisonment.
The street value of the meth seized was estimated to be worth approximately $500million at the time and it remains the largest-ever seizure of methamphetamine in New Zealand’s history.
Detective Senior Sergeant Lloyd Schmid says the arrests and convictions were a great outcome, which came about as a direct result of information received from the public in the days prior following suspicious activity in the area.
“I want to acknowledge the local community in the Kaitaia area who witnessed unusual behaviour and notified Police.
“They could tell there was illegal activity taking place and they were not going to tolerate this offending in their own community. It is thanks to their assistance that we were able to prevent the immeasurable harm that this meth was destined to cause throughout New Zealand.
“I also want to recognise the large number of police staff involved in this operation for their dedication and tireless efforts to get this result.
“From the great work by Northland Police who initially pulled over the campervan containing packages of meth, to the large number of staff from the Police Organised Crime Group who spent weeks working on the operation in Kaitaia and Auckland with the support of Northland Police officers, as well as our International Liaison officers in Bangkok and Guangzhou.
“I also want to thank Customs staff for their support in the joint investigation into the origin of the importation following the meth seizure.
“We are extremely pleased to be able to hold these criminals to account. These offenders are motivated by financial greed and have absolutely no regard for the devastation and harm that this drug causes to addicts and vulnerable people in our community.
“We will continue to do everything we can to disrupt meth supply chains and prevent further harm in our community. We hope this result sends a strong message to criminals that the consequences for this type of drug offending are extremely serious and you will be arrested and held to account.
“We continue to ask the public to help assist us in preventing any further harm from meth in the community by reporting any suspicious activity to Police or by contacting Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Nick Baker/NZ Police