Cocaine importation group defendants face nearly 100 charges

Thirty-one new charges laid against accused cocaine importation group. New Zealand Herald photograph by George Heard

Nine people are now facing nearly 100 charges linked to allegations by a major cocaine crime group, after 31 new charges were brought against them ahead of appearances at Christchurch District Court today.

The group have been charged with importing drugs, participating in an organized group and money laundering after a series of raids and arrests mainly in Canterbury in November.

Several of those arrested were Colombian farm workers and an interpreter was present in court to assist some of them today.

Details of the new charges are not yet known. Although they were mentioned by Judge Jim Large during a Crown Brief review hearing for the entire group, the charges have yet to be served on the individuals or their defense attorneys.

Some of them have name deletion, and an additional temporary deletion order has been imposed on the cover of an appearance today.

In addition, previous permission to photograph several of the defendants in court was terminated by a High Court order.

The defendants have all been remanded – some in police custody and others on bail – to another Crown Brief review hearing on March 28, when a date will be set to discuss the suppression issues and the asks the media to use the photographs they already have.

Most pleaded not guilty and elected to face trial by jury. Some charges, particularly those just filed, were dismissed without a plea.

Disclosure of details of the Crown case continues in monthly installments, according to Crown Attorney Barnaby Hawes.

“This is a very significant police investigation, with multiple (communication) devices seized, and encryption and language issues,” Hawes said.

About Jessica J. Bass

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