Trio on serious drug charges

Three Dunedin men have been charged with drug offences carrying maximum sentences of life imprisonment, following a combined Police and Customs drugs operation.

The operation targeting importers of internet-sourced drugs resulted in the three unemployed men appearing in the Dunedin District Court yesterday on joint charges of importing class A and B drugs into New Zealand between last November and mid-January.

Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, of the Southern District Organised Crime Squad, said in a statement yesterday drugs believed to be worth tens of thousands of dollars and destined for the Dunedin local market had been intercepted in the operation.

Police and Customs were pleased to have seized the drugs before they became available to the younger market, he said.

And he warned anyone engaging in such ''foolish behaviour'' risked facing serious charges which could carry up to 14 years' jail or life imprisonment.

None of the three entered pleas in court yesterday and all were remanded to reappear later this month.

Daniel Patrick McKechnie (20), of Northeast Valley, remains in custody by consent.

McKechnie knew police were opposing his bail and no application was being made ''at this stage'', counsel John Westgate told Judge Kevin Phillips.

The defendant was due to appear at a pre-trial callover on February 18 on ''unrelated but similar matters'', Mr Westgate said.

McKechnie faces four charge of importing the class A drugs LSD and methamphetamine and one of importing the class B drug 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) on various dates between November 17 last year and January 15.

Taine Mita Piriru Edwards (18), of Northeast Valley, and Mitchell Charles Connor-Dagg (19), of Green Island, are jointly charged with McKechnie, Edwards on two charges of importing LSD and methamphetamine and Connor-Dagg on two charges of importing methamphetamine and one of importing MDMA.

Bail was not opposed in their case, prosecutor Sergeant Chris George said. But he asked for strict conditions, including overnight curfews seven days a week, a ban on any communication or contact of any kind with each other and a ban on any access to the internet.

Sgt George also asked that the pair surrender their passports and not be allowed to travel.