26 Oct 2011

Malaysian drug couriers jailed

2:56 pm on 26 October 2011

An Auckland judge has told 10 Malaysians, jailed for trying to smuggle millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine, he wanted to send a clear message New Zealand was not a soft touch.

They have each received jail sentences of between nine and 10 years, after being found with the drug, commonly known as P, in their shoes at Auckland Airport in April.

The eight men and two women, aged from 20 to 70, were sentenced at the High Court in Auckland on Monday, after earlier pleading guilty to importing the class A drug into New Zealand.

Justice Lang said New Zealand had a serious problem with methamphetamine and the sentence should act as a deterrent.

But the judge also took into account early guilty pleas, good character and whether they had previous convictions.

He accepted most of the offenders were under significant financial pressure from loan sharks and were pressured into being drug couriers.

Earlier in the trial, at the High Court in Auckland, the Crown told the court drug couriers were crucial players in the drug importation process and proposed a prison sentence starting at 15 years for each offender.

But one of the defence lawyers said his clients were all struggling financially and needed to repay debts.

He said the 10 were not acting as a group, but were all recruited individually and put under pressure to participate.