A South Canterbury teenager whose attempts to import drugs were thwarted at the border was found with about 650 ecstasy pills hidden in a lolly bag.
The now 18-year-old, aged 17 at the time, who has name suppression, told authorities he had sold or given away about 350 MDMA tablets over the dark web – shipping the illicit drugs around New Zealand using bitcoin cryptocurrency transactions.
He was sentenced to four months’ community detention and 18 months’ intensive supervision with judicial monitoring when he appeared before Judge Joanna Maze in the Timaru District Court on Friday.
He had pleaded guilty to possessing MDMA for supply and attempting to import MDMA, LSD, and amphetamine.
In a summary of facts presented to the court, Crown prosecutor Anne-Marie McRae said a glass bong addressed to the youth and sent from China was intercepted and seized at the International Mail Centre in Auckland on June 26, 2019.
New Zealand Customs also blocked nine grams of MDMA hydrochloride powder on August 7; 336 LSD tabs on December 11; and 11.3g of amphetamine on December 27, all to the youth from the Netherlands.
Police executed a search warrant at the youth’s home on February 5, 2020.
“During a search of his bedroom, police located approximately 650 MDMA tablets in a ziplock bag concealed in a Skittles lolly bag,” McRae said.
“In explanation, [he] stated that he imported the MDMA tablets from overseas via the dark web using bitcoin cryptocurrency. He paid $1.80 NZD per pill, a total of $1800 NZD.”
He sold the pills for $50 each to people around the country, through a “domestic market” on the dark web, McRae said.
“In relation to the LSD and amphetamine intercepted and held at Customs, [he] declined to comment.”
Defence lawyer Kerry Cook said going through the court process had been a “watershed moment” for the youth.
“I just want to acknowledge how far [he] has come in terms of the person Your Honour first saw and his parents were dealing with. This family has taken everything that this court case has thrown at them very seriously, and made changes.”
The family supported judicial monitoring and counselling being incorporated into the sentence, Cook said.
“The momentum that has gathered because of this has been incredibly beneficial to the family. Just because [he’s] been abstinent for a short period of time, that doesn’t mean it [drug abuse] won’t come back,” he said.
“There is the obvious benefit of Your Honour having oversight into [his] rehabilitation, and how he’s being monitored by the Department of Corrections.”
Judge Maze said while she gave the youth a sentencing indication of imprisonment or home detention in June, both McRae and Cook supported community detention and intensive supervision because of the defendant’s age.
“Some allowance can be made in recognition of his obedience to stringent bail conditions,” the judge said.
“I hope this provides sufficient flexibility to support any job application.”
The judge convicted the youth, ordered him to undergo drug and alcohol counselling and any other treatment direction by a probation officer, and banned him from using the Internet unless given the all-clear by probation and under the supervision of his parents or another approved adult.