A footballer has been charged with running an international cocaine smuggling ring which was recently busted here in New Zealand, police said.
The 27-year-old Kindness Agwu, a semi-professional footballer, has played for Metro FC and Mangere United. He is one of the nine people facing charges in connection with the multimillion-dollar operation, New Zealand Herald reported Sunday.
Another of the defendants, a personal trainer at an Auckland gym, was granted interim name suppression Saturday after his lawyer, Barry Hart, secured a Saturday morning court hearing, following an approach for comment from the Herald on Sunday late Friday.
Head of the Auckland drug squad Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Cahill alleged the trainer was a "go-between" who let the gym, where he worked, be used for drug deals.
Police allege Agwu arranged for parcels of cocaine to be sent from Argentina.
They also allege that the New Zealander John Tipene picked up the parcels and, along with girlfriend Lucy Mason, arranged for distribution.
Five of their relatives have also been charged.
Agwu was arrested in September and is also charged with importing and supplying methamphetamine and money laundering.
The group has been charged with importing three kg of cocaine into New Zealand between Nov 9, 2009 and Feb 10, 2010.
The haul represents about 20 per cent of the cocaine imported into New Zealand in the past nine months.