Sentencing for Operation Cossack

Press Release – New Zealand Police

Sentencing for Operation Cossack

Please attribute to Detective Senior Sergeant Albie Alexander, Counties Manukau Major Crime Team

Police and Customs acknowledge today’s sentencing at the Auckland High Court for Adrian Le’Ca, who was arrested and charged over Operation Cossack, following the seizure of 15 kilograms of methamphetamine and two kilograms of cocaine in 2016.

Le’Ca, who is a member of the international Bandidos gang, was sentenced today to 15 years and nine months imprisonment after pleading guilty to charges relating to the importation and possession for supply of methamphetamine and cocaine.

It follows the sentencing of three additional offenders who were arrested as part of Operation Cossack – a seven month joint operation between Counties Manukau Police and NZ Customs into the smuggling of methamphetamine.

Fred Uputaua was previously sentenced to 13 years and nine months in September 2017 after he pleaded guilty to possession for supply of methamphetamine and cocaine and for attempting to import methamphetamine and cocaine.

Two additional offenders, Queenie Anne Matthews and Meinata Piahana both pleaded guilty to charges relating to the importation of methamphetamine and cocaine and were sentenced in November, 2017 to 11 months home detention.

Detective Senior Sergeant Albie Alexander from Counties Manukau Major Crime Team says the convictions were the result of a dedicated effort by staff who worked tirelessly on a lengthy and complex drug operation.

“Methamphetamine destroys lives, and the huge amount seized by Police had the potential to cause a significant amount of harm and damage to our community.

“Unfortunately this is not an isolated case and there will continue to be those who attempt to smuggle methamphetamine into the country.

“The seriousness of this offending is at the highest level and are reflected in the penalties passed down from the courts.

“What was particularly striking about this case was that the main offender and mastermind in this smuggling operation (Le’Ca), exploited two of his own family members by involving them in his criminal activity.

“We will strive to bring these offenders to account and do everything in our power to get methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs off our streets and keep our communities safe.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Alexander says the operation also demonstrates the effective collaboration between NZ Police and NZ Customs in working to intercept drugs and arrest those responsible for importing it into New Zealand.

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says disrupting the supply of drugs is top priority for Customs, and dismantling the criminal syndicate is the ultimate aim.

“Customs was pleased to support Police in this operation where one small seizure led to a much larger seizure and the arrests.

This was a good result for all involved.”

ENDS

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