24 Apr 2017

Head Hunters gang members sentenced for P ring

5:22 pm on 24 April 2017

A Head Hunters gang leader who was the architect of a drug ring making and supplying methamphetamine has been jailed for at least eight years and four months.

Entrance to the High Court in Auckland

Seven people were sentenced in a methamphetamine case at the High Court in Auckland. Photo: justice.govt.nz

William Hines was one of seven men sentenced in the High Court in Auckland today for their roles in the operation.

They were all arrested following police raids on more than 30 properties in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty in July 2015.

Hines, 64, was found guilty at a trial earlier this year of 10 charges, including manufacturing methamphetamine, possession for supply and a raft of firearms offences.

The court heard that at least 1kg of methamphetamine had been manufactured at a semi-rural Auckland property in April 2015.

The cook, who was not a gang member, was hired as an independent contractor.

A storage unit was rented the same day the drugs were made.

In this unit, police discovered a number of firearms, about 136.5g of P carefully packaged in one-ounce bags, large quantities of other chemicals used in the manufacturing process and a black van with dark reinforced windows.

Justice Downs said while Hines was not present while the methamphetamine was being made, he was the architect of the operation and everyone else involved in it reported to him.

"This was the work of an organised criminal enterprise," he said.

"I am sure you directed this offending."

Justice Downs said Hines had an extensive criminal history and had previously spent time in jail on drug-related offences.

Hines was sentenced to 18-and-a-half years in prison for the charge of manufacturing methamphetamine. He was also given three-and-a-half years' prison for each of the other charges, to be served concurrently.

In setting the minimum non-parole period of eight years and four months, Justice Downs took into account Hines' poor health.

Te Here Maihi Maaka, 36, was found to have helped supervise the manufacturing process and played an important role in keeping firearms and other items hidden.

He was jailed for 16 years and two months on the manufacturing charge, with three years for each of the other charges to be served concurrently.

Justice Downs handed down a minimum non-parole period of seven years and three months, which provoked an angry response from family members sitting in the public gallery.

"But you put a child killer in jail for six years," one said.

"You're better off murdering somebody," another yelled.

Travis James Sadler, 38, was trusted by Hines to carry out his orders and was seen as the second-in-charge of the operation.

His primary role was to secure 4.46kg of Contac NT - a methamphetamine precursor. He was also responsible for paying rent on the storage unit, until he was jailed in May 2015.

He must serve a minimum of nine years of his total sentence of 18 years and two months in prison.

As he was being led out of the court, Sadler swore loudly.

Falco Maaka, who was found guilty of a single charge of manufacturing P, was sentenced to 13 years in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of just over five years and two months.

As he was taken out of the court, he told family members in court that he loved them.

The cook, Peter Atkinson, was sentenced to 17 years and two months in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of seven years.

Justice Downs said Atkinson's expertise was integral to the success of the operation.

He said Atkinson had a "troubling" record of drug-related offending and he posed a risk to the safety of the community.

Two other men, Thomas Edwardson and John Vijn, were also jailed for their roles in the operation.

'Real harm'

The police national manager of organised crime, Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, said it was a significant operation, with significant consequences.

"These men, some of whom were patched members of the Head Hunters, or operating on behalf of the Head Hunters, running a commercial enterprise, manufacturing and selling meth into the community - as we keep saying, this is real harm being generated in the community to users and their families from the violence and offending associated with meth use."

Mr Williams said a lot of criminal gangs were running sophisticated business-like operations, because there was so much money to be made from P.

"They're making a profit off the back end of it and there's the temptation for them, isn't it? The profit part to it, but at the end of the day, these men are looking at significant periods in jail away from their families and out of the community."