Dark Web Meth Ring Jailed for 8 years – The drugs were concealed in a Playstation, cosmetics, chargers, a rice cooker and a vibrating slimming machine.
But the mother and daughter’s drug importation scheme was foiled when Customs intercepted the packages bound for homes in the Waikato and Invercargill.
Now four years after the bust that stopped up to $2.7million of pure methamphetamine hitting New Zealand’s streets, the domestic “lead” Karen Colleen Morgan, has been sent to jail for eight years.
Morgan, 57, from Invercargill, her daughter Rochelle-Lee Dawn Morgan, 29, of Hamilton along with Shontal Jane Ollett of Huntly were jointly charged following the Police and Customs operation in 2016.
Rochelle-Lee Morgan was sentenced to seven years and 10 months jail for importing a total of 2.827kg of methamphetamine, while Ollett was jailed for five years and six months on five charges last year.
Karen Morgan was the last to be sentenced in Hamilton District Court this week after pleading guilty to seven counts of importing a Class A controlled drug.
Facts outlines in court stated that between February 1 and June 23, 2016, Customs intercepted seven imported packages containing pure methamphetamine.
The packages came from Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia and Thailand and addressed to various homes in Hamilton, Huntly and Invercargill.
They were sent using international courier, express mail and insured post. When they arrived in New Zealand they were assigned a tracking number.
The drugs were found inside cardboard boxes concealed within the workings of a PlayStation, rice cooker, chargers and vibrating slimming machine, as they passed through the international mail centre and courier freight stream.
In Morgan’s case the total weight of methamphetamine imported was 3.4kg with a street value between $1.7- $2.7million.
“You had a significant part to play in bringing methamphetamine into this country in a significant quantity which ultimately if got through would have yielded significant misery…particularly to those people most vulnerable,” Judge Cocurullo said during sentencing.
Exactly how the drugs came to be in the packages was unclear but police obtained phone records that showed calls and text messages tracking the packages in New Zealand.
In some cases items were addressed to people known to Morgan. An IP address tracking one of the packages came from a Hamilton house where Morgan was the registered account holder.
“In addition to the organisational role in delivering the methamphetamine, on an occasion you were involved in a money transaction,” Cocurullo said.
It appears that Morgan had the contacts with whoever was at the back end of the overseas IP addresses, he said.
This was highly organised and pre-meditated offending, Crown Prosecutor Geraldine Kelly said. An attempt to bring in a large quantity of methamphetamine for commercial purposes.
Morgan, and her co-offenders, were the New Zealand contacts, and Morgan was the “lead” in this offending.
Her travel to India and contacts in Nigeria shows she was more involved than someone simply “dragged” into it.
The Crown had found no evidence Morgan had profited financially in New Zealand although it was possible she had money offshore.
Kelly sought a starting point of 15 years, with a 15-20 per cent discount for guilty plea given it was only after Ollett gave evidence against Morgan that she accepted further charges.
She did not seek an uplift for Morgan’s time spent in jail in Thailand due to money offending.
Defence counsel Fiona Guy Kidd QC accepted that Morgan’s offending was slightly more than her daughter, but nothing more than 14 years was appropriate.
In assessing Morgan’s culpability Cocurullo said he needed to consider is there was any proof to claims she was “coerced by two males offshore with threats of retribution and violence”.
“While I accept there is an international component..I’m struggling to give much credibility to the notion that over this offending you were under any significant degree of coercsion.”
Cocurullo began with a starting point of 14 years jail, giving two months for her time on electronic bail. He then allowed 20 months discount for personal mitigating factors and a further 15 per cent for her ill-health. Slightly over per cent was given for early guilty pleas.
He then convicted and sentenced Morgan to eight years jail.