A New Zealand Maori gang president has pleaded guilty on Tuesday to allowing his ute (utility vehicle) to be used to transport cannabis last year.
Albert Victor Epere, president of the Mangu Kaha (Black Power) gang was driving with three other members in his Ford Utility on November 17. The car, registered to the Mauri Kahatu Trust representing Epere’s whanau (extended family), was pulled over at 9pm.
“Because of a very strong smell of cannabis coming from the vehicle, officers invoked their emergency search powers under the Search and Surveillance Act,” reported the Otaga Daily News.
One member was carrying a bag containing almost a pound of marijuana in the backseat. Crown counsel Richard Smith attempted to convince the court that Epere was aware of the 427g of cannabis although there was no evidence to prove the Magu Kaha president knew the exact amount.
The member carrying the bag was stripped of his patch and pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis for supply.
Judge Kevin Phillips dropped Epere’s drug charge for lack of evidence and he was given partial credit for admitting to not using his vehicle in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Epere was sentenced to 150 hours of community service and was disqualified from driving for four months. He also had $1,098.00 in unpaid fines dropped, and Phillips tacked on another 40 hours of service to his community.