Da Wen Shao.
One of the key suspects in a sophisticated drug syndicate
was allowed to flee New Zealand for fear of jeopardising the
covert investigation which led to a record-breaking $190
Da Wen Shao has not returned but is alleged to sit in the
upper echelon of the Auckland organised crime ring charged
with smuggling 263kg of pseudoephedrine into the country in a
Court documents released to the Herald show that a van load
of 20 boxes of "corn starch" - but containing the Class-B
drug used to manufacture methamphetamine - were switched with
boxes of corn starch in a Customs-controlled area at Auckland
The swap happened inside a freight company under police
surveillance. Intercepted phone calls show Shao was in
contact with a staff member, who told him the van would be
ready to collect soon.
Undercover officers followed the van to an address in
Avondale, where Shao parked his car alongside the van inside
a double garage and from there to a property in Blockhouse
The homes were watched for nearly two weeks while detectives
in the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand
gathered more evidence through bugged phone calls.
The decision was made to raid the "safe house" addresses in
Avondale and Blockhouse Bay in October and seize the
pseudoephedrine before the drugs could hit the streets.
Caches of 58kg and 205kg were discovered and two people who
lived at the houses were arrested. Together, these are the
largest seizures of pseudoephedrine in New Zealand history.
But the more senior members of the alleged drug syndicate
were left alone in a tactical move, in the hope they would
think they had escaped detection.
However, 44-year-old Shao left New Zealand the next day - and
has not returned.
Detective Inspector Bruce Good, the officer in charge of
Operation Ghost, said the decision to allow Shao to fly to
China was difficult.
"If we arrested him, we'd have to terminate the operation
early. Otherwise they would all be running to the airport, or
flushing their drugs down the toilet."
Mr Good said the decision was calculated in that he might
return if no other arrests were made.
But Shao did not return and six weeks later police laid
hundreds of serious drugs charges against more than 30
The total amount of pseudoephedrine seized in the raids in
October and December was nearly 600kg - enough to cook $172
million of P - including 260kg disguised as "bread crumbs"
inside a shipping container at the Ports of Auckland.
Homes, cars and cash worth more than $20 million were seized
and restrained under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
According to the court file, Shao was a "substantial
customer" of the casino until he was banned for loan sharking
in December 2012. In the eight months earlier, he had a
gambling turnover - the total of money spent and winnings -
of $13.2 million.
• Da Wen Shao
• 44-year-old Auckland man
• Charged with importing 263kg of pseudoephedrine, a Class-B
drug used to cook methamphetamine
• Gambling turnover of $13.2 million at SkyCity in just eight
• Fled New Zealand before his arrest. Believed to be in
• Anyone with information about Shao can contact Detective
Sergeant John Sowter at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 09 259 0736