A secret police swoop left a drug dealer without 10,000 ecstasy tablets and still facing a $210,000 bill to the underworld figure who supplied him.
He may even be pleased with this report of his guilty plea in the High Court at Christchurch - it will set the record straight about exactly what happened on April 3, 2008, when the drugs vanished.
Dean McArthur Keown, 56 and unemployed, is now in custody awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to charges of possessing the class B drug for supply, and supplying it. The offences carry maximum penalties of 14 years' jail.
The police describe Keown as a significant supplier of ecstasy to Christchurch, with retail turnover of well over $1 million.
They cracked the Auckland drug supply connection with their Operation Pave which ended with arrests on July 23, 2008.
Details of the drug ring and the police operation have been released after Keown's guilty pleas, with his sentencing scheduled for May 27 in Christchurch.
Keown and an associate were already under police surveillance when they drove to Auckland on March 3 and 4, 2008. Outside Sky City Casino, Keown met an English citizen who represented a large international drug syndicate supplying ecstasy to several large distributors.
Police believe the contact provided Keown with a large amount of ecstasy which was then driven back to Christchurch by his associate, while Keown flew back to ensure he kept his distance and reduced the risk.
The police then got a phone tap warrant, and were recording when Keown called the Auckland supplier on March 31 to say he had the money from the previous sale and wanted to buy another 6000 ecstasy tablets. Two days later police believe he spoke of an order for 10,000 tablets.
Keown and his associate again drove to Auckland where police believe Keown paid $210,000 and picked up the 10,000 tablets.
Again, Keown flew south while his associate drove back to Christchurch. While the driver was away from the car, the police secretly raided it and took the 10,000 tablets from the boot. The driver returned to find them missing and phoned Keown to tell him things were "not so good".
Keown called his Auckland contact a few days later to say he had "a couple of problems". He travelled to Auckland to explain he could not repay the $210,000 debt for the drugs he had already obtained.
The Auckland contact called his "boss" in England, who later spoke to Keown by telephone. Police interceptions recorded the boss' name as Justin.
"It's not very good news I'm hearing," said the boss. "You know to be honest I don't really care what happened. You know you've still got to pay, don't you?"
Keown said he had enough money to buy more drugs and begin repaying the debt. Justin told him to borrow some of the money from a mate "so as to at least ease the pain for my side".
The next day Keown met his Auckland contact again, at a cafe, and they were seen exchanging bags. Police believe Keown picked up 4000 ecstasy tablets which would have had a street value of between $240,000 and $320,000. This time, Keown and his associate drove back to Christchurch together.
The 10,000 ecstasy tablets police had seized from the car six weeks earlier had a street value of between $600,000 and $800,000.
No ecstasy tablets were found in Keown's possession when search warrants were executed at the end of Operation Pave. He exercised his right to say nothing, but has now pleaded guilty.
I knew the Pom. He is the guy that a girl that i knew used to sneak drugs into Mt Eden Prison to. I ran into them at court, in October, i think it was...one of the times that i went to court last year anyway...back when every single time, i would see someone from that world. Him and his girlfriend had sat right in front of me, and turned around to talk to me. I had asked them how his case was going and she just shook her head and said "not good."
He had been arrested later than this guy, so no doubt we will see his sentence coming up in the news here soon, in the next few months. There were a whole group of people that were arrested due to this operation.
He had been kept in jail, on remand and refused bail for about 3 months after his initial arrest, because he was a flight risk or something. It was horrible, how much that had changed him. It didn't change him enough to stop doing drugs though. He was very obviously fried when i saw him in court, nearly a year later.