Drug empire outlined in court trial

An alleged gang boss stashed thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine in Masterton cemeteries, a court has been told.

Paul Peter Mawana Rodgers, also known as Porky Rimene, is accused of distributing more than three kilograms of meth into the Wellington region between mid-2009 and early 2011.

The drugs would have had a street value of about $3 million.

Rodgers, 40, had so many places to bury drugs and money it was hard to keep track of them, a former associate, whose name was suppressed, said in the High Court at Wellington yesterday.

The witness said he was at Rodgers’ beck and call, was often beaten, did drug deals for him, and buried drugs and money at sites around Wellington and Wairarapa, often on the properties of neighbours, including in Island Bay and Strathmore.

A groundsman at Riverside Cemetery, Masterton, found a container of about $7000 worth of methamphetamine that had been buried at the base of a tree.

Another stash was almost lost when bulldozers went through a public walking track, shifting a container of drugs. The witness said he had to work at night with a hired metal detector to find it. Rodgers told him if he did not find it when he was digging he would be put in the hole instead, the witness said.

While Rodgers visited the graves of relatives at a private urupa in Kibblewhite Rd, Masterton, he directed the witness to bury drugs or money in the grounds or under nearby buildings.

The witness said more drugs were lost when he put a spade through a plastic container of methamphetamine and dirt contaminated the drugs. Rodgers hit him with the spade and charged him $15,000 for the ruined drugs.

“That’s just the kind of guy he is,” the witness said.

The witness said he managed to remove the dirt and salvaged some of the methamphetamine.

Giving evidence via closed circuit television, the witness said Rodgers spent money on the high life, going to restaurants, staying in hotels, buying gadgets and big screen televisions. “You name it, he had it.”

Rodgers went on a spending spree, buying enormous American cars and customising motorbikes. He changed BMWs and Mercedes if they became known to police.

“He liked American V8s and if he saw one he wanted he would buy it, on a whim almost,” the witness said.

Rodgers has pleaded guilty to supplying methamphetamine between July 2009 and February 2011, offering to supply the drug, conspiring to obstruct the course of justice, money laundering and taking part in a criminal group.

However, he disputes he had the leading role and is expected to deny he was the captain of the Wellington Nomads gang. Justice Stephen Kos has to decide the disputes.

In the High Court at Wellington yesterday prosecutor Simon Barr began presenting the evidence the Crown says proves the extent of the drug deals and Rodgers’ role in it.

The hearing continues today.

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