Trevor Miranda appeared in the Manukau District Court yesterday charged with importing and possession of a Class-A drug. Photo / Richard Robinson
A 68-year-old man duped into smuggling 1.5kg of meth into the
country believed he was actually collecting $8.5 million in
The Auckland man lost tens of thousands of dollars to
Nigerian scammers over a number of years in an online fraud
and flew to Papua New Guinea in November to receive $8.5
million as a reward. The cash never arrived but he was again
promised a large payment if he carried a laptop back to New
Instead, he was tricked into taking luggage on his flight
back to Auckland with 1.5kg of methamphetamine hidden inside.
The New Zealand Herald can now reveal the 68-year-old is
Trevor Francis Miranda.
He has been charged with importing and possession of a
Class-A drug for supply and appeared in Manukau District
Miranda was showered with gifts during his Port Moresby stay
but when he could not fit them into his own luggage, his
hosts gave him two extra bags to help carry them.
Customs officers at Auckland International Airport discovered
the 1.5kg of drug haul concealed inside the luggage in
November, which led to a five-week joint investigation with
the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand.
Operation Gatsby intercepted the phone calls and messages
between Miranda and a Nigerian man he was supposed to deliver
the luggage to in New Zealand.
Surveillance teams also followed Miranda who co-operated with
investigators after he arranged to meet his contact at an
At the supposed handover, the 68-year-old refused to
relinquish the luggage because the contact did not use the
correct coded phrase.
His contact in Nigeria called him to reassure Miranda to hand
the bags over.
The Herald understands police surveillance teams also noticed
other men shadowing Miranda who appeared to be monitoring
whether police were tailing him before attempts were made to
collect the packages.
Two more packages of methamphetamine, weighing 1.2kg, were
found hidden in shoes during Operation Gatsby. Police say
those drugs had been sent here from the Philippines and
Cameroon through the international mail system.
The total amount seized in Operation Gatsby had a street
value of $2.7 million.
Nine other people have been arrested and charged with the
importation and possession of Class-A drugs for supply, which
carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
One of the accused also faces charges over a cannabis growing
house discovered during the police raids.
Police said the leaders of the alleged drug ring were
Nigerian expatriates based in Auckland and Woodville, near
Miranda was released on bail until April for a case review.
Outside court he attempted to evade the Herald and was
ushered back into the building and out a rear door by court
His co-accused have elected to go to a jury trial later in
Trevor Francis Miranda
*Believed he would be paid $8.5 million in Papua New Guinea
after being fooled by a Nigerian internet fraud
*Given two bags to bring back to Auckland. 1.5kg
of methamphetamine found hidden inside
*68-year-old now facing charges of importing
and possession of a Class-A drug for supply
*Nine others arrested in Operation Gatsby
*Total of 2.7kg seized with street value of $2.7 million
- Sam Boyer, Jared Savage, NZ Herald