News from NZ Police
A fifty-four year-old Upper Hutt man was sentenced in the Wellington District Court yesterday for his role in a black market paua ring and for methamphetamine offences.
Saravuthy Mao was sentenced on all charges to five years’ and three months imprisonment and banned from fishing for three years.
Mr Mao was the ringleader for a group that poached paua from the Wellington coastlines between January and March 2010. The illegal paua was on-sold into the Auckland Asian community and restaurants. Mr Mao committed these offences while on parole from prison for past poaching offences.
During late 2010 Mr Mao was identified as the leader of a poaching ring which included his associate Ronald Daly. In early 2011, fishery and police officers executed a search warrant at an Upper Hutt property and found scales for measuring methamphetamine, $16,135 cash, and 6.7 grams of methamphetamine. A further $13,770 cash was later located at the address of another associate, Harlee Watene.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Manager – Operational Support Unit, Gray Harrison says the case was a MPI and Police combined effort.
“The outcome of this case is a great example of inter agency co-operation on the frontline. It highlights what can be achieved by dedicated staff intent on apprehending offenders who compromise the sustainability of our fisheries and at the same time engage in serious drug offending,” says Mr Harrison.
Detective Sergeant Brian Yule, officer in charge of the investigation, says Police would continue to work with other agencies to disrupt the criminal activities of offenders.
“This operation stopped a group of people whose activities were causing harm to both the fisheries and to the community they sold drugs to,” says Mr Yule.
Mr Daly was sentenced in June 2012 to five years’ imprisonment and banned from fishing for three years for poaching paua and selling it, and for conspiracy to supply, possession for supply, and supply of the Class A controlled drug, methamphetamine. Mr Watene was sentenced in October 2012 to three years’ and eight months for possession for supply and supply of methamphetamine. He was not part of the paua ring.
The total of $29,905 cash that was identified during the investigation has been forfeited to the crown.
Under the Fisheries Act 1996, offences can attract a maximum term of 5 years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $250,000.
Conspiracy to supply a Class A controlled drug attracts a maximum jail term of life imprisonment.
“Working together with Police strengthens our effort to prevent black market crime syndicates being established in our communities. The sentencing of Mr Mao and his associates sends a strong message to those who choose to abuse our fisheries and commit drug offences,” says Mr Harrison.
The Ministry for Primary Industries encourages the public to report any suspicious fishing activity to its free phone hotline 0800 4 POACHER (0800 476 224).
The Police encourage the public with information in relation to drugs to report this to their local Police or anonymously using the Crimestoppers line 0800555111