Travellers had meth hidden in their bodies

A woman who arranged for two travellers to fly into New Zealand from Hawaii with more than $200,000 of methamphetamine hidden internally has been jailed for three years six months.

Shimaine Laura Margaret Riviere, 49, who has dual American and New Zealand citizenship, pleaded guilty to the meth importation charge in the Christchurch District Court in February. The offence of importing the class A drug carries a maximum term of life imprisonment.

The two travellers – both women – went to Hawaii for about a week in December 2015.

Customs questioned them when they flew back into New Zealand. At first they denied importing drugs but with the prospect of CT scans looming they admitted carrying the methamphetamine internally.

The combined weight of meth in eight packages removed from them was 224g, which had a street value of up to $224,000.

Judge Paul Kellar said he had been told that Riviere had given the women the methamphetamine, instructed them how to package and conceal it, and was supposed to arrange for its collection in New Zealand.

The judge said text messaging showed that both women were heavily involved in the scheme and were more than just drug “mules”. One of them was living with a gang member at the time. Both have pleaded guilty and been sentenced.

Riviere did not impress the probation officer who interviewed her ahead of her sentencing. The report said she had given “convoluted and sometimes contradictory explanations” for importing the drugs, and there was little sign of remorse or acceptance of responsibility.

However, defence counsel Pip Hall QC said she had apologised for her offending in a long letter to the judge. He read out a section: “I am in a constant state of remorse or regret. I wasn’t in my right mind. I have completely ruined my life and damaged the lives of my children in the process.”

Judge Kellar said he was willing to accept that she was genuinely remorseful, and he noted “glowing testimonials” provided by several people, saying that she was of good character and put others before herself.

“And yet you have been involved in serious offending. Methamphetamine is a drug that wreaks absolute havoc on the lives of those who use it and on the community in general,” he said.

He reduced her sentence for her guilty plea, her previous good character – Riviere had no prior convictions – and for the long period she had spent on remand on electronically monitored bail.



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