Patched Head Hunters gang member Luther Toleafoa was the master of his operation, a judge says.
He used his gang contacts to get large quantities of methamphetamine from Auckland to Rotorua to onsell, doing deals out of Rotorua hotels and making enough money to fund an enviable lifestyle.
Now he’s been jailed for 10 years.
In August, a Rotorua District Court jury found Toleafoa guilty of 51 drug-related charges.
They included 22 counts of supplying methamphetamine, 20 of offering to supply the drug, five of conspiring to supply methamphetamine and four of possession of methamphetamine for supply.
He pleaded guilty last month to two money laundering charges, avoiding another trial.
His wife, Paula Toleafoa, was found guilty at trial last month of 61 money laundering charges.
When police raided the Toleafoas’ Rotorua home on December 6, 2018 they found 1173.6 grams of methamphetamine and $21,000 in cash.
Police started Operation Janzi in 2018 by intercepting Luther Toleafoa’s texts and phone calls between March and December.
During the four-and-a-half-month police investigation, he possessed, supplied, offered or conspired to deal a total of 1.7 kilograms (62 ounces) of methamphetamine, valued at about $620,000.
A police summary of facts said Toleafoa, 42, spent much of his life in Rotorua and moved to Auckland in 2013. He became a patched member of the Head Hunters gang.
The texts showed he was communicating in code with his customers, such as: “Wet; any bdy wntng? 10 5 2;5 csh and no les”.
Others would say to him: “A whole n a half I’ll come to ko2”, “Shock but can u take lil bit out I got 450”, “I just get q pak 2500” and “Can I come c u I’ve got coin for shock”.
At his sentencing in Rotorua on Friday, Crown Solicitor Amanda said a cultural report showed Toleafoa had a difficult and traumatic upbringing and that led him towards a path of gangs and drugs.
She said this offending was purely for financial gain, however, and was not based on addiction – although there was some evidence he also used drugs.
Judge Hollister-Jones queried part of Toleafoa’s remorse letter that said his “life changed” on the day the police raided his home.
Judge Hollister-Jones said he assumed that meant changed for the better, but he queried that if that were true, why he would take the charges to trial and not plead guilty?
Luther Toleafoa’s lawyer, Annabel Ives, said that was the case but everyone was entitled to take matters to trial.
Judge Hollister-Jones said he needed to know if her client now took full responsibility for his offending to which Luther Toleafoa replied: “I take full responsibility.”
During sentencing, Hollister-Jones said Toleafoa would get the methamphetamine in large amounts in Auckland and would bring it to Rotorua to distribute.
He would stay in Rotorua hotels where he would base himself to do his deals.
He would sell the drug in amounts between half an ounce and three ounces, as well as smaller retail amounts.
Judge Hollister-Jones said a review of messages showed Toleafoa had people under his control, including a driver who made a delivery and someone who would bring the product to the customer.
The judge described it as a “highly profitable” business and a forensic accountant gave evidence at the trial that showed Toleafoa had unexplained cash of $141,000, including $21,000 found in the police search.
“It provided you with a lifestyle that would have been the envy of your drug-dependent customers.”
He noted he had sentenced one of Toleafoa’s customers, a drug-addicted woman, for on-selling the methamphetamine.
“Her circumstances were sad and they were an example of the social harm caused in this community.”
He noted Toleafoa didn’t have any previous drug convictions but had violence convictions from 2008.
“You have not been before the courts for serious offending for many years.”
Judge Hollister-Jones said Toleafoa had a house washing business that became a front for his drug dealing.
“You used your networks to source methamphetamine from the Head Hunters and then personally brought it to Rotorua or used others to bring it down.
“This was your own operation. You were clearly the lead or director of your own business.”
While Toleafoa tried to blame his mother and upbringing for his offending, the judge took that with caution.
“Joining a gang in your 30s while you are married and have a business is an adult decision.
“The principal cause of this offending was your membership with the Head Hunters and the opportunity it gave you to sell methamphetamine for profit.”
He was now receiving drug addiction help while in prison, but Judge Hollister-Jones said Toleafoa’s wife had commented she wasn’t aware of his drug habit. The judge said he therefore didn’t put much weight on addiction issues being the reason for Toleafoa’s offending.
His remorse and acceptance of his actions was a step in the right direction, Judge Hollister-Jones said.
He sentenced Toleafoa to 10 years in prison for drug offences and 10 months for money laundering. The sentences would be served concurrently.
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