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The fall of a New Zealand drug lord

ROTORUA: New Zealand has been riveted lately by the tale of a drug kingpin who built a methamphetamine empire on precursor drugs smuggled from Thailand, only to be brought down by his adultery with several wrong women.

By Bangkok Post

Tuesday 14 May 2013, 08:42AM

Gary John Read, 45, pleaded guilty to 74 charges of illegal importing and sale of drugs at the High Court in Rotorua, the New Zealand media reported.

"The party-pill king smuggled drugs from Thailand, where he owns a $1.5 million mansion," said a report in the New Zealand Herald online. NZ$1.5 million is about 36.7 million baht.

Read is the director of NZ Party Pills Ltd and internet Sales Ltd, a company which specialised in online sales of herbal supplements to boost sex drive and weight loss, as well as legal highs such as Tripping Weed and Bong It, said the newspaper.

Read set up a diabolical smuggling system to get pseudoephedrine into New Zealand. It is a necessary precursor to making methamphetamine-type drugs.

According to testimony and papers in the High Court, Tead arranged the purchase of pseudoephedrine pills in Africa, and then smuggled them into Thailand.

There, he headed an operation that crushed the pills into paste and hid them inside cosmetics jars.

Packages of "cosmetics" then were posted to New Zealand to family and friends in at least four New Zealand cities, who acted as "catchers" for the precursors.

He admitted in his guilty plea to organising for 77 packages of pseudoephedrine to be smuggled into New Zealand between June 2009 and September 2011, a total of 32kg. Police arrested him while he was opening a 1.8kg package.

Police estimate between 16kg and 24kg of methamphetamine tablets could be manufactured from the 32kg total, worth about $17 million at street level - 416 million baht.

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Read's downfall was at least as colourful as his drug-trafficking.

The New Zealand Herald report said Read been sleeping with a number of different women and the husband of one had found out. He was already under observation by police, who suspected him of drug offences, and they were listening in as the husband rang Read from his wife's cellphone.

"It was not a friendly conversation", according to a police summary of the case. Then another call came, the angry boyfriend of a second girl.

Read by now had obtained a handgun and was recorded by police as ready to use it on his sexual partners' men if necessary.

When he went to pick up one of the women for a tryst, he was confronted by what he thought were two drunken men - but in fact they were the women's boy friend and a mate, and they tried to rob him of drugs and cash.

Read pulled out his pistol and fired shots as they fled.

Last week on the eve of his trial Read pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a pistol, importing pseudoephedrine and methamphetamine-related charges.

Read the original story here.



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