A 20-year-old Hong Kong national has been sentenced to 15 years and five months for the importation of 176kg of methamphetamine, with a street value of around $176m, into New Zealand.
A joint Customs and Police operation intercepted 10 shipping containers last year where upon examination found the meth wrapped in bags of tea concealed inside the structure of the containers.
At the High Court in Auckland today Justice Simon Moore said Kai Yip Cheung was recruited from Hong Kong to assist in the logistics of clearing the drugs in New Zealand.
Justice Moore described how a phony company was set up in Auckland under the guise of importing scaffolding.
Four other importations had been successfully completed before Customs swooped on the fifth shipment.
Cheung came to New Zealand on a student study visa and enrolled in an English language course. He had poor attendance and sat no exams.
Justice Moore said Cheung had no intention of studying English and completing the course. Cheung's role was to look after the containers once they arrived in the Auckland warehouse and clear them of the drugs.
Justice Moore said Cheung was lured to his role because he was in debt and wanted easy money.
Cheung must serve a minimum nine years in jail before he is eligible for parole.