Ex-Tonga rugby manager jailed in N.Zealand drug case
WELLINGTON (AFP) –
The former manager of Tonga’s rugby union team has been jailed in Auckland for plotting to import methamphetamine into New Zealand, according to reports.
Angus Naupoto, 36, Tonga team manager at the 2007 World Cup, was sentenced to two years and four months after pleading guilty to conspiring to import 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of the drug, the New Zealand Herald reported on Friday.
In a case Judge Sarah Katz described as “highly unusual”, it said the court was told the methamphetamine never actually existed and the plot was part of a scam by criminals in Tonga to rip off Naupoto and his associates.
New Zealand police discovered the plan and proceeded with a prosecution after arresting him last year because even though Naupoto had not known he was being swindled, he had intended to ship drugs from the Pacific nation.
TVNZ reported that Katz said Naupoto had gone from a respected member of the Tongan community to someone who planned to deal in a substance that was a “scourge” on society.
“It is rare to see a man of your background in front of the court,” she said. “This is a huge fall from grace for you.”
The Herald reported that one of Naupoto’s associates was also sentenced to home detention for his role in the plot and three others would be sentenced next month after being found guilty at a trial.