Bastion Pt cocaine smugglers a tale of three troubled generations and enduring mysteries

The age-old story of sons seeking the approval of fathers is behind a long saga involving buried treasure in Auckland and a mysterious cocaine kingpin.

After a trial last month, Polish men Ryszard Wilk and Patryk Lukasz Lukasik were found guilty of charges including importing cocaine.

Ryszard follows his son Ralph Wilk into prison.

The son was subordinate to his dad in the drug racket, and was jailed in 2018 for eight years and five months after pleading guilty to drug supply and money laundering.

Wilk’s defence counsel Annabel Ives today revealed she had heard from her client’s son.

“He forgives his father.”

It was not clear if Ryszard would extend a similar forgiveness to his own father – because the court today heard that man was partly the reason Ryszard came to New Zealand.

At the High Court in Auckland, Justice Tracey Walker said Ryszard’s father, and Ralph’s grandfather, was dubbed an “egomaniacal narcissist” and opportunist.

That man left the family when Ryszard was young, but would periodically re-establish contact, and Ryszard would eagerly offer to help.

It was the desire to help his dad financially that brought Ryszard to New Zealand to sell cocaine, the court was told.

But since Ryszard’s legal troubles snowballed, the eldest Wilk was seemingly no help.

“Apparently your father has been of no support, material or otherwise,” Justice Walker said.

Ives said the drug trade was not very profitable for her client, and evidence showed he lived a frugal life in New Zealand.

Justice Walker said commercial gain motivated the crimes, adding: “One can be careful with money, notwithstanding how much one has.”

Although the trial heard of foul-mouthed and tense exchanges between the drug importers, Ives today indicated Wilk and Lukasik were now on good terms.

The court heard Wilk was previously detained in Venezuela for 15 months, where jail conditions were disgusting and for which he should receive a sentencing discount.

“I haven’t found anything close to Venezuela, in terms of conditions,” Ives said.

Wilk was arrested after Interpol issued a global wanted notice, then extradited to New Zealand in 2019 to face charges.

Jurors at the High Court trial last month heard of a multinational crew of drug smugglers and hangers-on traversing Europe and the Americas.

The trial also highlighted covert police break-ins and cocaine remnants buried at Bastion Pt.

As the Herald previously reported, throughout the conspiracy the Wilks were in touch with a mystery West African drug mastermind.

It was also unknown who brought the cocaine into New Zealand. The Crown had blamed Russian sailor Aleksandr Cherushev, but he was found not guilty last month.

Lukasik’s defence counsel Lorraine Smith today said the amount of drugs imported was minor compared to some recent Class A drug cases.

“Four kilograms was a relatively small amount when you think about the huge amounts ofmethamphetamine brought into the country.”

Smith said courts had confirmed the social damage methamphetamine caused, but social harm regarding cocaine was not so established.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said intercepted messages showed both the Wilks were willing participants in the drug ring.

Justice Walker said local associates helped the conspiracy, and two of those associates had already admitted money laundering.

For importing cocaine, as well as drug supply, conspiracy, and possession for supply charges, Wilk was jailed today for 10 years and 7 months.

But that sentence will be reduced by 465 days for time served in Venezuela. He must spend a minimum of 4 years and 3 months in jail.

For importing cocaine and money laundering, Lukasik was imprisoned for 9 years and 1 month, with 7 months discounted for time served.

He must spend at least 3 years and 7 months in jail.

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