ZB

Auckland meth bust: Alleged King Cobra member named

Author
Miriam Burrell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Dec 2021, 1:12pm

Auckland meth bust: Alleged King Cobra member named

Author
Miriam Burrell, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 8 Dec 2021, 1:12pm

An alleged senior patched King Cobra gang member involved in smuggling 250kg of methamphetamine into New Zealand can be named. 

Nigel Iuvale's interim name suppression lapsed this morning at Auckland District Court. 

Police allege he and another man are King Cobra gang members, involved in an organised criminal group, who smuggled methamphetamine from incoming flights at Auckland Airport between January and October this year. 

Prosecutors claimed he was "the leader, or the instigator on the New Zealand side", when the group of 14 men and women was arrested and charged last month. 

It was the result of a joint operation, called Operation Selena, between New Zealand police and Customs. 

But defence lawyer Marie Taylor-Cyphers said allegations that Iuvale is a "leader" are speculative, during his first court appearance on November 17, and that he denied being a gang member. 

He has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, including various versions of importing, possession and supply of methamphetamine. One is for participating in an organised criminal group. 

He did not appear in court today. He was previously remanded in custody. 

The identity of the second alleged King Cobra gang member remains a secret. 

He was granted continued name suppression by Judge Thomas Evangelos today, along with another person allegedly involved in the organised criminal group. 

Many others involved were named last week, including six baggage handlers who worked at the airport. 

They are Sitaleki Maka, Tungane Manuel, Sanlolan Piukana, Kimela Piukana, Paul Toroma, Tokofa Toroma, Martin Pritchard, Rhys Tualevao and Mairiau Samson. 

All defendants are aged between 18 and 43, and lived in a range of properties across Auckland including Whitford, New Lynn, Lynfield, Māngere, Manurewa and Mt Wellington. 

The group is alleged to have conspired to import a further 200kg of methamphetamine destined for New Zealand, that was intercepted at the Malaysian border last month. 

Instructions would be received from the lead offenders via encrypted messages and face-to-face meetings in relation to impending importation of methamphetamine onboard Malaysian Airline flights, the court heard last month. 

At least one person is accused of being involved in removing methamphetamine from Auckland International Airport to vehicles waiting in nearby carparks. 

Baggage handlers assisted by obtaining drugs from cargo flights and facilitating the handover from the aeroplane to other defendants, the Crown alleged. 

Twenty properties across the city were searched, with police finding more than $500,000, along with a revolver and an air pistol.