Former Dunedin man jailed over $45m cocaine set-up

A man with links to Dunedin and Queenstown has been jailed, along with two others, for his part in importing millions of dollars of cocaine from Colombia.

Justice Cameron Mander sentenced Felipe Montoya-Ospina, David Bonilla-Casanas and Zane Robert Jordan at the Christchurch High Court on Thursday, after they admitted dozens of class A drug importation and money laundering charges.

Bonilla-Casanas moved to Dunedin with his family in 2008, aged 15, and attended high school in the city before enrolling in polytech.

He moved to Queenstown shortly after, then on to Christchurch, where he worked in a restaurant. It was there he met "a number" of his co-defendants. 

The three men, aged between 32 and 37, were part of a much larger drug syndicate responsible for importing and distributing nearly 100kg of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $45 million.

A global investigation into the syndicate involved the New Zealand Police's Organised Crime Group and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, as well as Spanish and Colombian police.

The court heard that a senior member of the group, Montoya-Ospina, imported the drug to his Hororata farmhouse, southeast of Darfield, where he extracted the cocaine and washed it with acetone.

More than once, Montoya-Ospina took the cocaine on a bus from Christchurch to Auckland, where Jordan would wait with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

Jordan then packaged and sold the drug to users in the community.

Bonilla-Casanas laundered more than $200,000, helped import cocaine and received money and cocaine as payment.

He had access to ID cards and passports that he provided to the syndicate.

Montoya-Ospina was sentenced to 14 years, 7 months for importing, extracting and distributing cocaine and Bonilla-Casanas to 8 years, 2 months for money laundering and forgery.

Jordan was imprisoned for 5 years, 3 months on cocaine supply charges.

More members of the syndicate will be sentenced later this year.

 - Additional reporting ODT