8 Mar 2013

Jailed drug boss stripped of $5m in assets

9:15 pm on 8 March 2013

A Waikato businessman who ran an elaborate drug operation has wrecked his life and lost millions of dollars of his assets out of greed, a High Court judge says.

Stephen Gray has been jailed for 12 years for manufacturing and supplying methamphetamine and selling the drug MDMA after being convicted at a jury trial in Hamilton in 2012.

The 57-year-old was sentenced in the Auckland High Court on Friday.

Justice Priestley ordered Gray to forfeit $5.1 million in assets - the largest such forfeiture in New Zealand to date.

They include two properties in Waikato, two cars worth a total of $2.7 million and almost $2.5 million in drug profits.

The judge said Gray was the architect and principal operator of a large drug operation in Waikato which netted him huge returns.

He said Gray was good at it, knew the destructive force that drugs have on others, and benefitted from a constant flow of untaxed drug money.

Gray must serve a minimum non-parole period of five-and-a-half years.

Police say his arrest would have had a huge impact on the drug trade in Waikato. The officer in charge of the investigation said the sentence is a great result.

Detective Superintendent Peter Devoy told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Friday that Gray's drug activities would have gone on for some time.

Since legislation in 2009 allowing the recovery of assets held by people convicted of drug offences, police have seized property worth $21 million from drug offenders.

Of this, $15 million in forfeited assets relate to offences involving methamphetamine.

Police also hold restraining orders over assets worth about $109 million dollars, which will be seized by the Crown on conviction.