Diamante horse head cocaine smugglers found guilty of importing 35kg of drugs into country

A High Court jury has found the two men at the centre of New Zealand's biggest-ever cocaine bust guilty on all counts.

Mexican Agustin Suarez-Juarez and American Ronald Cook were charged with possession for supply and attempting to supply.

The pair were arrested at Auckland Airport last year after authorities found 35 kilograms of cocaine inside a diamante encrusted horse head imported from Mexico.
Throughout the four-week trial the men argued they were unaware the horse head contained drugs.
They told the High Court at Auckland they thought it was concealing money and if anything they are guilty of money laundering.
It took the eleven person jury three days to reach their guilty verdicts.
The jury was unable to reach a unanimous decision on both counts for Cook. The judge accepting a 10-1 majority verdict.
 
Investigators used every trick in the book to track those allegedly behind the $14m drug haul. Source: 1 NEWS



Meth, high-powered firearms and ammunition seized after Western Bay of Plenty raids

Methamphetamine, high-powered firearms and ammunition have been found today at properties in Tauranga, Papamoa and Maketu in the Western Bay of Plenty. 

Police were targeting methamphetamine suppliers in the raids. 

Two kilograms of methamphetamine was seized. 

A statement from police said: "While inquiries to locate and speak with those involved is ongoing Police are confident criminal charges will result from today's seizures."

Source: 1 NEWS

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Bill English says he's 'still unclear' on Todd Barclay's alleged secret taping, after disgraced MP stands down for upcoming election

Embattled Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay will not stand at the next election. 

The Prime Minister says he wasn't part of Barclay's decision to step down but said that he made the right decision. Source: 1 NEWS

The National Party MP, the country's youngest, confirmed today in a statement that he would not stand for the Clutha-Southland electorate in September's election. 

"This has been a hard decision to make, but it is in the best interests of our government and the National Party," he said.

Prime Minister Bill English faced media questioning about Mr Barclay stepping down, and to what extent he was involved in the saga.

"I reported it to the appropriate party official. I reported it to the police because there was the allegation of an offence having been committed. There was no element of knowledge of some action that was hidden," he said.

The Clutha-Southland MP has been in the headlines over allegations relating to a staffer in his electorate office. Source: 1 NEWS

"I was not a party to the settlement at all. I had no role in the employment dispute, I don’t know what was settled."

He said his main regret was that people he knew "so well fell out so badly".

When asked if the public would have known about the alleged secret taping if it was not for media involvement, Mr English said: "Well, allegations around recording have been in the media for a couple of years." 

He was questioned further over the allegations that were previously being denied.

"They may have been denied, but if the question is would the public have known about them, then they have been published widely in the media for several years," Mr English answered.

He said at the time of questioning he "wasn't clear" about what happened, and said he was "still unclear".  

Mr English said Mr Barclay, "Made a decision which I think for a young man is a very difficult decision, but it's the right one. It means that we can get back to focusing on the issues that matter."

This comes after police confirmed earlier today they are reviewing fresh allegations Mr Barclay invented formal complaints against a staff member of his.

Mr Barclay touched on the alleged secret taping scandal and referred to it as an employment dispute.

"I don't want the issues that are important to Clutha-Southland and all of New Zealand to be distracted by an employment dispute," he said.

Mr Barclay described being elected as the Clutha-Southland MP as the "proudest moment" of his life.

The heat got too much for New Zealand's youngest MP as the illegal recording scandal hit the headlines. Source: 1 NEWS

"I got into politics because I was inspired by the people I worked for, Bill English, Gerry Brownlee and Hekia Parata. I wanted the opportunity to make my contribution too," he said.

"I have been privileged to serve the people of Clutha-Southland’s interests and have thrown my heart and soul into working for them.

"I'm proud of the work I have done, and grateful to have worked with so many passionate and amazing people. Thank you." 

Earlier:

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers confirmed they would reassess information reported in the NZ Herald that Mr Barclay not only secretly recorded conversations with staff member Glenys Dickson, but also invented formal complaints against her to Parliamentary Services.

"NZ Police are assessing the information that has been discussed publicly in recent days in relation to any impact on the findings of the original Todd Barclay inquiry." Mr Chambers said.

The original Barclay inquiry was dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Denials from Mr Barclay that he recorded staff members using a dictaphone in his office in 2015 were yesterday exposed by Prime Minister Bill English after he admitted Mr Barclay had told him about the alleged secret recordings himself.

The original allegations in 2015 prompted a 10-month police investigation into Mr Barclay, from which no action was taken.

But in addition to the staff recordings, NZ Herald has reported Mr Barclay invented complaints from the public about Dickson's conduct, which he referred to Parliamentary Services for disciplinary action.

"I had received complaints about the conduct of a staff member from members of the public and I referred the matter to Parliamentary Services," Mr Barclay told the NZ Herald in March.

"As the legal employer of support staff, they acted as they deemed appropriate and embarked on a disciplinary process.

"It is an employment matter and as I've said in the past I can't go into details through the media."

However, a letter from Parliamentary Services's general manager David Stevenson, cited by the Newsroom, says no such complaints against Ms Dickson were ever lodged with them.

"Parliamentary Service has neither received any complaint about you [Dickson] nor has it carried out any employment investigation or taken any disciplinary action against you," Stevenson's letter said.