Elaborate plan executed by police and customs for NZ's biggest cocaine bust, court hears


The trial for New Zealand's biggest cocaine bust is now underway at the High Court in Auckland.

Investigators used every trick in the book to track those allegedly behind the $14m drug haul.
Source: 1 NEWS

Mexican man Agustin Manuel Suarez-Juarez and his American co-accused Ronald Wayne Cook have pleaded not guilty to possession for supply and attempting to supply a Class A drug.

It comes after a large diamante horse sculpture was found to have 35 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside it last year.

The court today heard of an elaborate plan executed by police and customs to make the seizure.

In the Crown's opening, prosecutor David Stevens told the court the defendants were under surveillance from the moment they arrived in New Zealand.

Mr Stevens says cocaine was intercepted at the border by customs. Investigators then replaced 34 packages of cocaine with powder.

They inserted steel rods and a brick for weight, a tracking devise, and left one package of cocaine to enable the offenders to be charged. The statue was then sent on its way under the surveillance of police.

Diamante-encrusted horse holding cocaine

Diamante-encrusted horse holding cocaine

Source: Supplied

Mr Stevens says Cook and Suarez arrived in New Zealand from Hawaii, telling customs officers they were on a diving holiday.

The Crown says their every move was watched.

Mr Stevens says they met with a real estate agent and rented a property to store the statue.

They purchased power tools to gain access to the cocaine inside the horse and met the supplier who they called 'David' at an Auckland hotel.

Mr Stevens says that when the men opened the horse and found the tracking device inside they made contact with an associate, phone records revealing the men knew something was wrong and they tried to leave New Zealand for the US. 

The trial is set down for four weeks. Suarez is being assisted by an interpreter. Forty witnesses are expected to give evidence.

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