Charges against a man arrested in connection with New Zealand’s biggest cocaine bust have been withdrawn.
The Crown’s application to drop charges against 30-year-old Gonzalo Rivera-Pavon was approved in a hearing at the High Court in Auckland today.
Rivera-Pavon had been charged with possessing and importing a class A drug. The latter carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. He had earlier pleaded not guilty.
He told the Herald outside court: “We are relieved it’s all over and we can get on with our lives.”
Rivera-Pavon was arrested in a raid in Christchurch last year.
Two co-accused, fellow Mexican national Augustini Suarez, 44, and American Ronald Cook Snr, 56, were arrested last July after Customs found 35kg of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $14 million, inside a 400kg diamante-encrusted horse head statue that arrived by plane from Mexico.
Rivera-Pavon set up a Givealittle fundraising page in April asking people to donate money for his legal fees.
“I’m going through a very difficult time in my life. I need your help please,” he wrote on Facebook.
In the post Pavon said he moved to New Zealand in 2014 “in search of a better life”. He “settled down”, got a stable job, made friends and met a partner.
&13;- NZ Herald&13;