Cook Islander named as an alleged drug kingpin

Tuesday 12 May 2020 | Written by Katrina Tanirau | Published in Crime

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Cook Islander named as an alleged drug kingpin

Newlywed charged with trafficking cannabis between New Zealand and Cook Islands.

The alleged kingpin of an organised transnational group of drug dealers can now be named.

Six people in the Cook Islands and New Zealand were arrested on drugs and firearms charges and are now before the courts in the two countries.

Tere Junior Makita got married in front of 1000 guests. He and his wife, with their 27-strong wedding party, posed for elegant photos at Auckland’s Pt England Reserve.

Less than two months later on December 13, 2019, he was arrested in Auckland.

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He appeared in the Manukau District Court four days after.

He faces multiple charges: participating in an organised criminal group, possession of cannabis for supply and the import/export of cannabis.

At the time of his arrest, Cook Islands Police Service Commissioner Maara Tetava said police were committed to making the Cook Islands a hostile environment for those involved in organised crime, including anyone who wants to peddle illegal drugs.

He said partnering with other law enforcement agencies, like the Cook Islands Financial Intelligence Unit and New Zealand Police, is an important part of his strategy to target and dismantle organised crime groups.

New Zealand Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers said targeting transnational organised crime in the Pacific continues to be a priority for New Zealand Police.

It’s not the first time Makita has been in trouble with the law.

In May 2018 he was convicted under section 377(1)(a) of the Companies Act for making a false statement required by the Act and was convicted and sentenced to a fine of $200 for each charge, plus court costs.

Makita is understood to have had business interests in the importation of cars, gold dealing and The Bank Clothing Co label.

He is a former director of the clothing design company and of precious metals merchant Saint Red Ltd.

In October 2003 Makita, along with three other men, were charged with three aggravated robberies that occurred in central Auckland.

He was acquitted by jury in respect to the first two robberies but convicted of the third.

Makita is due to appear in the Manukau District Court again on June 19.