NZ Comanchero trial: Dad told ‘use your brain’ after texting defendant, Crown says

The Comanchero Motorcycle Club New Zealand president feared he was about to be arrested eight months before a major police bust and also suspected police were bugging his phone, a jury has been told.

Five people, including the boss Pasilika Naufahu, are on trial in the High Court at Auckland facing drug, money laundering and organised crime charges.

Jurors have been told intercepted calls show coded conversations, discussion of hundreds of thousands of dollars and a suspicion that police had tapped mobile phones.

Of the dozens of intercepted calls using nicknames and codes played during the trial, none have involved the local Comancheros president until now.

One Saturday morning in August 2018 – months before the April 2019 raid – a person who police say is Naufahu’s father, sends him a text.

It talks about being able to pay off $200,000 of a mortgage, and spend the rest of his life on holiday around the world.

Thirty seconds later, police say his son, Naufahu, replies.

“Dad”, the text says, “don’t send me these,” then another, “I told you to use your brain”.

Then a minute later, a call.

The word puakas was translated by police as ‘pigs’.

“Dad, don’t send me message [sic] like that. You know the puakas get all my messages,” the text read. “Ok, I delete,” came the reply. “No it doesn’t matter if you delete … all my messages already [go] all to the puakas. I’ve told you so many times, don’t send me messages,” the text read.

“Wait until you see me then talk to me. How many times do I need to say – I’m gonna get arrested soon. I’m on a big case over here.”

Encrypted messaging app discussed

The Crown said Naufahu told one person to download ‘Signal’, an encrypted messaging app, and discusses with his brother about getting their father to use it.

Later, another recording includes the Comancheros president talking to a bank operator over the phone to apply for a credit card. He said he is paid $2200 a week before tax – the equivalent of $114,000 a year – by a company which was run by another defendant, who has name suppression.

Earlier in the case the Crown said that company was used to pay “pretend” salaries to Comancheros members to conceal the true source of the gang’s wealth.

“That’s my only income,” he said to the bank teller.

Earlier, two other men, one of whom will be called as a witness, discuss buying an airplane and whether the particular model could fly all the way from Auckland to Fiji without stopping for fuel.

The Crown produced other bugged phone calls and photographic evidence of multiple people depositing small sums of money at various banks accounts.

In one, lawyer Andrew Simpson – already convicted and jailed for money laundering – tells another man that he can tell “the boys” a $100,000 cheque has landed.

“I’ve had a couple of cheques arrive today … you can let the boys know that … I’ve banked those cheques … about a 100,000 in Kiwi’s one. I thought you’d be happy to hear that.”

The defence has yet to have its arguments heard. The trial continues tomorrow.

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Source: RNZ