30 Sep 2013

Suspected drug importer used cash mules

11:52 pm on 30 September 2013

The Crown says the Latvian head of an international drug syndicate used human cash mules to carry his drug profits out of New Zealand.

Rokas Karpavicius has denied four charges of importing class B drugs, one of importing class A drugs, one of conspiracy and two charges of money laundering.

Mr Karpavicius, a Lithuanian national, was arrested in 2011 and extradited from Europe to face trial at the High Court in Auckland .

Crown prosecutor Mike Walker says customs officers found hundreds of thousands of dollars on two couriers stopped at the airport.

He says when officers searched their luggage they found more than $300,000 in cash. Wads of $100 bills were poking out of pockets and stuffed into shoes.

Drugs hidden in Harry Potter book

The Crown says the drugs were hidden in granite statues and the spine of books. Mr Walker said Mr Karpavicius sent LSD to a friend hidden inside the binding of a Harry Potter book.

One book was intercepted by Customs and allowed to go through to see who would claim the package, but no one did. When police opened the book, Mr Karpavicius' fingerprints were found inside.

The Crown says the accused cashed money from the crimes in foreign currencies and transferred it to four people. He is also accused of funnelling cash through a company.

The jury of eight women and four men have been warned by Justice Lang not to do any of their own research.

The trial is set down for two weeks.