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Mongrel Mob members jailed for selling drugs, made profit of over $1.5m

Report from RNZ
Two men considered to be the leaders of Wellington’s biggest drug ring have been sentenced today.

Steven Blance was given 14 years and 6 months in jail for possessing and selling methamphetamine, while his so-called right hand man William Berkland received 13 years and six months.

Blance was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to sell the drug, and one year for unlawfully having a gun and receiving stolen property.

Blance must spend at least seven years and three months in prison, while Berkland’s minimum sentence is six and a half years.

They were sentenced in the High Court in Wellington.

Judge Justice Collins said both men, who belong to the Mongrel Mob, were at the extreme end of such offending. He said Blance was considered the mastermind behind the ring, a sophisticated operation uncovered in Porirua in April last year.

In sentencing Berkland, he said 15kg of meth was bought and sold over the seven months he was under surveillance.

Justice Collins said while police were watching, more than 700 people visited the address the pair were dealing from. He said it was estimated the pair supplied about 1kg of methamphetamine per week.

Justice Collins said it was one of the largest cases involving methamphetamine in the country.

The men operated out of a house in Tawa that had reinforced steel doors, a sophisticated CCTV system, and an electric beam sensor to alert them to visitors.

While being watched by police between October 2016 and April 2017, the pair bought 15 kilograms of meth, and sold it for a profit of more than $1.5 million. They bought the drug from suppliers in Auckland.

Justice Collins said the Crown’s case was the amount they’d dealt was much more than that, but that’s what they were being sentenced for.

The charges came from a police operation dubbed Operation Walnut, which targeted the commercial supply of meth.

Following the sentencing Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Leitch said police were delighted with the outcome, with the sentences handed down reflecting the seriousness of the charges. The pair were career offenders who had little regard for the harm they were causing for their community – with no insight for the families and children impacted by their offending, Mr Leitch said.

“Steven Blance was recorded as saying if they paid me $5000 a week I’d be happy and I wouldn’t have to sell crack. This short sentence perhaps best illustrates his level of arrogance and sense of self entitlement.”

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