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18 Mar 2018 17:14
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  •   Home > News > Law and Order

    Jury goes out in horse-head cocaine trial

    A jury has begun deliberating on whether two men attempted to supply cocaine smuggled into New Zealand inside a glittering horse head statue.

    The fate of two men accused of trafficking $14 million worth of cocaine inside a jewel-encrusted horse head statue now rests in the hands of a jury, which has retired to deliberate.

    Ronald Cook Senior, 56, and 44-year-old Augustin Suarez-Juarez of Mexico were arrested last July after Customs made its largest-ever interception of cocaine, finding 35 kilograms of the Class-A drug inside the glittering sculpture arriving by plane.

    The pair have been on trial in Auckland charged with possessing and supplying cocaine.

    On Monday, Justice Sarah Katz told the jury in the High Court at Auckland the key issue to consider was whether the two men knew there was an illegal drug inside the horse head sculpture or not.

    She said Crown prosecutor David Stevens had claimed the men made two trips to New Zealand in May and June 2016, first to move the cocaine and then to extract it from the statue and supply it.

    Mr Stevens said the way the men acted made it clear they knew the sculpture contained an illegal drug.

    However, Cook and Suarez-Juarez argued they thought the horse head contained laundered money, not drugs, Justice Katz said.

    The men's lawyers said there was no evidence, either among intercepted text messages or audio recordings, showing them talking about illegal drugs being inside the sculpture.

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