Australian man jailed for 12 years over 109kg of meth found in pallets

An Australian man who admitted possessing 109 kilograms of methamphetamine, found hidden in plastic storage pallets, has been jailed.
Michael Eugenio Navarro, from Sydney, previously pleaded guilty to possessing the class A drug for supply in what was described as a significant, commercial deal.

The 27-year-old appeared at the High Court at Auckland on Friday, in front of Justice Paul Davison, where he was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in jail. He was ordered to serve half of his sentence.

Navarro was arrested alongside Alan Tran in July 2019 after methamphetamine and cash was found at a storage unit. Tran was jailed in October for his part in the offending.

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Navarro arrived at Auckland Airport in June, telling Customs he was visiting a sick relative, but instead the pair rented properties for the purpose of a drug operation.

Cash was found in a dishwasher at an Avondale address.

After a search warrant, Customs investigators and police found 142 black and green plastic storage pallets and evidence of drug extraction from within the pallets.

Two plastic pallets were found partially disassembled with compressed methamphetamine in hidden compartments.

Navarro worked alongside Tran to extract methamphetamine from the plastic pallets with tools.

At an address in West Aucklands Avondale, $76,550 cash was found inside a dishwasher and a backpack.

Justice Davison said methamphetamine, scales and plastic bags was found inside one of the rented properties.

Of the 126 pallets found at an address in Manurewa, south Auckland, 51 contained methamphetamine of about 80 per cent purity, the court heard.

The head of Oranga Tamariki, Grainne Moss, is deeply concerned about the rise in methamphetamine use and the effects it has on children and families. (Video first published in October 2020)

Navarro told a report writer an associate offered him work in New Zealand for $10,000, but he did not know it would be drug related.

I consider that explanation totally implausible ... it's clear you knew what you were involved in was unlawful, Justice Davison said.

Navarro was born in Sydney after his family emigrated from Chile, however his mothers return to South America had an effect on his life causing him to feel a sense of abandonment, the court heard.

From the age of 13 to 21, Navarro was a daily user of cannabis and a report writer said there was a demonstrative nexus between his background and the offending.

The court also heard Navarros brother used methamphetamine therefore, he should have known the dreadful effects of the drug, Justice Davison said.

Mark Ryan, on behalf of Navarro, said he had a lesser role than Tran, was genuinely remorseful and motivated to rehabilitate.

Ryan said Navarro would be deported to Australia after serving his sentence as he was living illegally in New Zealand at the moment.

The public interest and utility in having an illegal person in New Zealand subject to deportation longer than the minimum one third period, Ryan said.

Justice Davison gave Navarro discounts for his early guilty plea and mitigating factors, including being separated from his family in Australia and remorse.


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