It is rare that a person imports drugs, gets caught and is quite candid about his crime. But this is what has precisely occurred in Dunedin, New Zealand, and the person involved, Levi Jordan Wells Bertanees, is a chef.
There are criminals that the police arrest on charges of being in possession of illegal drugs in excess quantities.
However, what has turned this Dunedin case (the actual crime was committed in October/November last year) into a headline news item are some new aspects.
Before that, it might be of interest to know how Bertanees fell into the police net and what happened thereafter.
Ecstasy Imported from the U.K.
Levi Jordan Wells Bertanees, a resident of Dunedin and a chef by profession, had presumably used the dark web to order Ecstasy (class-B MDMA), a drug banned in New Zealand, from a source in the U.K. The quantity involved was 392 kilos—huge, by any reckoning.
It was the New Zealand Customs Service at the importing point that detected the contraband. Understandably, the chef used a false name, L. Hunter, but the address was his own.
That was good enough for the Customs officials to lay the trap. They delivered the parcel themselves and obtained Bertanees’ signature on the receipt.
The police waited for him to open up the packages and raided the residence. Sure enough, they found most of the supply packed and ready for selling to his clients. Some of the usual things one associates with such supplies, including digital scales, were found as well.
Bertanees Admits to the Crime
The police investigated the crime and they could easily establish that the chef was indeed involved in importing and selling the drugs in the country.
In their estimation, the drug involved (ecstasy) could fetch up to $400 per kilo and taking into account another consignment imported a couple of months earlier—when the police found a box with similar markings as the present one—the case was presented before the Dunedin District Court that the total value of drugs imported by the chef amounted to $156,000.
Bertanees admitted to the police that he had indeed imported the drugs, but he claimed he was selling them at a lower $200 per kilo price.
He said, in addition, that he was himself not into drugs and in one of the hearings in the court, his defense lawyer even claimed that he was doing this to support his family and kids.
The case, filed in November 2017, has come to a conclusion this month. The accused chef Levi Jordan Wells Bertanees has been sentenced to prison for four years by the judge.
Some Lingering Questions
With drug trafficking on the rise in New Zealand, this case has become a unique topic for discussion on the easy accessibility of drugs online. This was stated by the counsel for Bertanees himself to the Court.
He referred to the ease with which anyone can use the internet to access banned substances and order them, pay for them and make money out of them, all acts not permitted in law.
The reason indicated, of being in need of cash to run a family, sounds unusual as well, since other people of his age may be engaged in similar professions and are earning almost an equal amount of dollars each month to run their lives.
Again, the point was that committing crimes itself has been made easy; and in this particular case, the Customs officers detected it, either due to some suspicion or a tip-off.
There have been similar cases cracked, including in the U.K. and in the U.S., of the law enforcement authorities intercepting the courier while the drugs purchased on the dark web are being delivered.
That is the only way they can make out a case; there is no other proof they can collect because these transactions on the dark web are completely hidden from public view and no trace is left.
Darknet activities are relatively anonymous since they are end-to-end encrypted and IP addresses are masked.