Weekend Herald

15 years jail for huge meth haul in golf carts

- Ben Leahy Crime · New Zealand · United States of America · Auckland Region · Long Beach · California · Matthew Palmer · David Niven

A Tai­wanese man who helped smug­gle 110kg of metham­phetamine into the coun­try hid­den in­side golf carts now faces up to 15 years be­hind bars.

Cus­toms of­fi­cers made the spec­tac­u­lar drug bust last year when they found the meth con­cealed in­side bat­ter­ies in three six- seater elec­tric golf carts.

Seiz­ing some of the meth, Cus­toms teams then re­placed it with a harm­less sub­stance in a dra­matic sting that ul­ti­mately led to the cap­ture of Yu Chiu Tan.

The 40- year- old Yu sub­se­quently pleaded guilty to im­port­ing the class

A drug into NZ from the United States.

In the High Court at Auck­land, Jus­tice Matthew Palmer yes­ter­day sen­tenced Yu to 15- and- a- half- years in prison with a min­i­mum pe­riod of seven years be­hind bars.

Crown pros­e­cu­tor Den­nis Dow ear­lier equated the 110kg im­port of meth from Long Beach in Cal­i­for­nia to caus­ing about $ 136 mil­lion worth of “so­ci­etal harm”. The to­tal haul across all 24 bat­ter­ies was 110kg.

He said Yu took part in the op­er­a­tion solely to make a buck.

Dow pointed to how Yu ex­tracted the drugs — some of which had by then been re­placed with the harm­less sub­stance — from the golf cart bat­ter­ies, paid freight fees and ar­ranged rental prop­er­ties to store the goods.

How­ever, Yu’s de­fence lawyer David Niven ar­gued his client had a “lesser role” in the op­er­a­tion.

Yu per­formed all the “high risk” parts of the traf­fick­ing op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing go­ing to a freight of­fice to pay for the trans­port costs of the golf carts. These were “high vis­i­bil­ity” jobs where Yu would be pho­tographed by se­cu­rity cam­eras.

Jus­tice Palmer con­cluded Yu had played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the smug­gling op­er­a­tion, although not as se­ri­ous as prose­cu­tors ar­gued.

 ?? Cus­toms Photo / NZ ?? The golf cart bat­ter­ies hid 110kg of metham­phetamine.
Cus­toms Photo / NZ The golf cart bat­ter­ies hid 110kg of metham­phetamine.

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