Car bookings

Man who broke Covid lockdown rules found with $3m worth of meth

Trent Michael Francis Ilton pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine for supply in Christchurch High Court on Friday.  (File photo)

ALDEN WILLIAMS / Stuff

Trent Michael Francis Ilton pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine for supply in Christchurch High Court on Friday. (File photo)

A man caught breaching Covid-19 alert level restrictions at the start of the pandemic in 2020 had nearly $3 million worth of methamphetamine in his possession when he was arrested.

Trent Michael Francis Ilton, 33, appeared in Christchurch High Court on Friday where he pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine for supply, breaching Covid lockdown rules and failing to assist police in carry out a legal search.

In October 2019, Canterbury Police began investigating suspected drug dealing among members and associates of the local Tribesmen MC gang.

Investigations showed that the suspects were regularly involved in purchasing significant amounts of methamphetamine from Auckland-based suppliers. The methamphetamine would then be distributed to various dealers based on the South Island.

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Ilton was an associate of the Tribesmen gang, but was not a patched member or prospect.

On May 4, 2020, Ilton was found at a Bryndwr property in Christchurch. In a car parked on the property, officers found a cardboard box containing three large vacuum-sealed bags. The bags contained a total of just under 3 kilograms of methamphetamine with a street value of up to $3 million.

Police found Ilton inside the property. He had the car keys in his possession.

Police searched the property and car and seized over $38,000 in cash, which they found in various drawers, in a wine rack and in the garage. Police also seized sets of scales, rubber bands, boxes of zipper bags and several used Prezzy cards.

Ilton was asked to unlock his mobile phone, but he refused to do so or provide a PIN to the police.

A second suspect, who did not live in Christchurch, was also arrested at the scene. Ilton could offer no explanation as to why he was associating with the man and was charged with breaching Covid-19 alert level restrictions.

According to the summary of facts, investigators have established that members of the Tribesmen gang were involved in transporting large sums of money to enable the purchase of methamphetamine. Ilton was involved in organizing logistics such as travel bookings, storing cash and equipment, and counting cash before it was transported to Auckland.

He also sometimes helped transport money. On one occasion, Ilton flew into Christchurch Airport with two others, but they all entered the security screening area separately. Ilton was carrying a backpack. After 13 minutes inside the domestic departure lounge, Ilton left the airport without boarding a flight and without the bag.

According to the Crown, there was no evidence that Ilton was a serious drug addict or had an addiction, but rather that he received financial compensation for his role.

Ilton will be sentenced on August 5.