Monday 26 September 2016

Irishman jailed in New Zealand for €2.4m drug trafficking

Cathal McMahon

Published 15/03/2016 | 16:24

O'Connor was jailed for a minimum of eight years for his part in a €2.4million methamphetamine importation
O'Connor was jailed for a minimum of eight years for his part in a €2.4million methamphetamine importation

An Irishman has been jailed for up to 16 years for his role in a large scale international drug operation.

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Michael O’Connor, 50, helped co-ordinate a global syndicate that imported more than €2.4m worth of methamphetamine into New Zealand.

Skynews.com.au is reporting that he was arrested in the Netherlands in 2013 and extradited to New Zealand a year later where he was charged with one count of importing the drug.

O'Connor pleaded guilty to trafficking 4.3kg of methamphetamine in August last year and was jailed for a minimum of eight years on Tuesday.

While he did not handle the drugs directly, O'Connor was responsible for co-ordinating the pick-up of the product at Quest Apartments in Auckland in September 2012, and its delivery to a third party.

However his plan unravelled when kiwi police intercepted two suitcases containing the drugs en route to the apartment complex

The drugs were replaced with a dummy substance and the ‘catcher’ was arrested soon after he picked up the suitcases.

Local police then used this individual to set up a meeting with and ultimately arrest the local distributor.

Justice Simon Moore at the Auckland High Court was told that O’Connor was unaware the drug operation had been compromised. He was on holiday at the time in the Caribbean but was arrested months later in Amsterdam under an Interpol 'Red Notice'.

The judge said that although he was not the "mastermind" of the operation, O'Connor was "certainly well up the ladder".

Stuff.co.nz said Justice Moore told the court: "As you will be aware, this drug has been responsible for an incalculable level of harm in New Zealand over the last decade or so.

"It is a drug which has not only ruined the lives of those who are addicted to it but it is responsible for massive collateral damage to families, friends and others. It is also responsible for crimes committed under its influence and crimes committed to feed the habits of those who are addicted to it.”

The Irish national was sentenced on Tuesday to 16 years jail, with a minimum non-parole period of eight years.

His sentence was also raised by 12 months because of a previous serious drug conviction in Australia.

 

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