Synthetics courier fined, heading home to China

The delivery driver for a major synthetic drugs ring operating in Christchurch will pay a $5000 fine today and fly home to his wife and child in China tomorrow.

Heng Fu, 35, accepted a sentencing indication in the Christchurch District Court, pleading guilty to a charge of supplying non-approved psychoactive substances.

The Crown accepted that he was the “courier” or delivery driver, carrying packages of raw product from the wholesalers to one of the men who has pleaded guilty during his trial in June and is awaiting sentencing.

Fu is the fifth person to plead guilty after the police’s 13-month Operation Sin investigation ended in May 2016. Two years after synthetic cannabis was made illegal, the police and Crown said the group was found with 173kg of it, which had a street value of between $3 million and $4 million.

Before the trial began in June, one man, Tong Liu pleaded guilty to charges of supplying synthetic drugs and money laundering $9900 which was sent back to China through an unlicensed money remitter. Liu was an employee at a Sockburn dairy and had sold the substance to customers over the counter. He was fined $10,000 and sentenced immediately so that he could go back to China.

Three others, a woman Fei He, 48, a man Sui Jun Zhou, 34, and another man, Xiwen Miao, pleaded guilty during the trial and have been remanded for sentencing on November 27.

Fu also admitted a Medicines Act charge and was convicted and discharged without penalty on that.

Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said the Crown had accepted that Fu had a limited role in the crime ring, and had only delivered raw product from the wholesale supplier to Miao. There was no evidence that he benefitted from it.

The Crown accepted that once sentenced, Fu would leave New Zealand to be reunited with his wife and child in China. He had booked tickets to fly to China on Saturday.

The money to pay his fine – an amount agreed at a sentencing indication hearing on Thursday – had been paid into defence counsel Nicola Hansen’s trust account overnight for immediate payment to the court.

Judge O’Driscoll told Fu: “I think to some extent you were under the influence of Fei He. I think you were following her instructions and directions.

“I think you were probably naïve in terms of understanding and appreciating both the consequences of your actions in getting involved with Miss He and and probably naïve in understanding the huge cost that synthetic cannabis has on the individuals who use it and on the community generally.”

He said he was not sure what the implications and consequences would be for Fu when he returned to China, but he suspected that he may not be allowed back into New Zealand.