Meth gangster brought down his family
A member of a notorious international gang exploited members of his own family in his failed bid to smuggle as much as $17 million worth of drugs into New Zealand.
Bandidos gangman Adrian Le’Ca will spend over 15 years behind bars after bringing down his sister and nephew in his attempt to shift 15 kilograms of methamphetamine and two kilograms of cocaine.
The drugs were seized in 2016 as part of Operation Cossack, which also resulted in the arrests of Le’Ca’s sister Queenie Anne Matthews and her son Meinata Piahana.
A third person, Fred Uputaua, was also arrested after the sting. He was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in September 2017.
Detective Senior Sergeant Albie Alexander of the Counties Manukau Police major crime team says Le’Ca was recently sentenced to 15 years and nine months’ imprisonment after admitting charges relating to ‘‘the importation and possession for supply of methamphetamine and cocaine’’.
After 15 years away from New Zealand, Le’Ca returned from a spell living in Thailand to move in with his sister, Matthews, and her son, Piahana. The pair were ‘‘exploited’’ in Le’Ca’s smuggling operation, Alexander says.
Matthews, 59, was a former bus driver and unable to live alone. She suffered severe anxiety attacks and depression after one of her sons committed suicide.
When Le’Ca moved back to New Zealand, Matthews was also suffering from a number of health problems including breast cancer, diabetes and gout. Le’Ca exerted huge pressure on her to act as a ‘‘catcher’’.
This involved her receiving packages of meth but likely having little knowledge of what was in them, according to Justice Ailsa Duffy.
Piahana, Le’Ca’s nephew, was a 29-year-old worker with a ‘‘good work ethic’’ who lived at the address with his mother where the methamphetamine was sent.
He had worked since he was 17 and had no previous convictions.
They were both sentenced to 11 months’ home detention in November at the High Court in Auckland.
Alexander says he found the way Le’Ca had ensnared his family into his drug operation as ‘‘particularly striking’’.
‘‘The main offender and mastermind in this smuggling operation exploited two of his own family members by involving them in his criminal activity,’’
‘‘The seriousness of this offending is at the highest level and are reflected in the penalties passed down from the courts.’’
Operation Cossack was a joint, seven-month operation between Counties Manukau Police and New Zealand Customs.
The sting also resulted in the arrest of three other men aged 54, 31 and 28 at the time.
Adrian Le’Ca tried to shift more than 15 kilograms of methamphetamine but was nabbed in a joint operation between Police and Customs.