How a freeway prang led to the demise of major meth dealers
A freeway prang, a secret lab, a filthy ventilator, and a haul of silver and gold bullion all contributed to the downfall of one of Waikato’s biggest meth dealers.
Alan Clinton McQuade, 48, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison for his leading role in the sweeping operation when he appeared in the High Court in Hamilton on Friday.
He had previously pleaded guilty to charges of manufacturing methamphetamine; possession of materials for making methamphetamine; Supplying methamphetamine and participating in an organized crime group.
Although not recorded in the Crown summary of the facts on the case, it was a fender flex on an Auckland freeway in 2018 that started the ball rolling towards McQuade’s downfall.
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Police had gone to a homestead on Horrell Rd on the outskirts of Morrinsville on October 28 this year in pursuit of the owner of a car involved in a minor accident that occurred on the nearby South Freeway about two months earlier of Papakura had occurred.
The summary shows that in their search for this man they came across items used in the manufacture of P, including reaction vessels, containers and glassware on the property.
A team of specialists from the Clandestine Laboratory Unit were called in and during a subsequent two day search of a cluster of sheds and outbuildings on the property a secret room was discovered, camouflaged by a false wall and fittings.
Inside was the largest secret lab the police had come across that year. It contained “an extensive assortment” of equipment, including five large metal cylinders, a steam condenser, five water-filled condensers, four steel burners, eight gas burner hotplates, and numerous reaction flasks, vials, and hoses.
There was also 10 liters of hydrochloric acid, 12 kg of sodium hydroxide, five liters of hypophosphorous acid and 8.7 kg of iodine.
Also in the lab was a ventilator used by the meth makers. A swab was taken and DNA was detected.
It was McQades.
However, his arrest was not immediate. In December 2019, the Waikato Police Organized Crime Squad launched an investigation codenamed Operation Kingsville. Monitoring was carried out. Telephone calls and text messages were intercepted.
Eventually, McQuade and 13 accomplices were tried on various drug and other criminal charges — but it wasn’t an easy task.
The summary said: “It became apparent that Mr. McQuade was cautious about his communications regarding illegal activities … on occasion he deviated from usual course and discussed matters related to the group’s criminal activities in a manner that.” was guarded and encrypted”.
In early May 2020, police discovered that McQuade had arranged another plot of land on Pukemore Rd, Cambridge, to be used by his employees to make meth in a garage. Though careful not to interfere directly, he visited the property and provided the group with a water pump and heat pack.
He also rented a storage unit on Sunshine Ave in Hamilton, and on May 27, 2020, his plans there really started to roll back.
That day, McQuade met one of his key associates, Ray Tyler-Waugh, at the unit. Tyler-Waugh left with a large cardboard barrel containing about 100 pounds of iodine, as well as a $97,400 box that McQuade took from his car and gave to him.
Police decided to grab Tyler-Waugh while he was in possession of the cash and iodine. A marked car pulled up behind his and lights and sirens were activated.
Tyler-Waugh initially stopped but then pulled away with police in tow. However, his driving was so dangerous that his pursuers had to give up the pursuit.
In any event, Tyler-Waugh and three other accomplices were arrested that night at a Morrinsville motel, where the cash and iodine drum were seized.
McQuade was seen a few days later going to the storage unit and removing another large barrel of iodine.
He himself was arrested in July of the same year. In the trunk of one of his cars, police found 25 one-kilogram bars of silver and three 10-ounce bars of silver.
During a search of his Waitetuna home, police also found bills for ten 10-ounce gold bars valued at $190,600 that had been purchased by an employee in 2017.
The summary also notes that he was held in Spring Hill Jail after his arrest. During a recorded phone call with the prison, McQuade instructed another member of his cohort, Max Savage, to “interrogate” an individual who McQuade suspected likely aided the police investigation.
“Then discussions ensued about steps that should be taken to ensure the job was done ‘thoroughly’.”
In court, McQuade’s attorney, Simon Lance, said he had a history of substance abuse, including smoking marijuana at age 12 and becoming addicted to methamphetamine at 19.
Among the defense documents presented to the court was a poem he had written himself, in which he said there was “a boy struggling with his past”.
It was also revealed that he had previously been convicted of trafficking and possessing meth in 2008 – for which he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Although he had tried to stay slim since his release in 2014, he had started using and then trading three years later after his father’s death.
Crown prosecutor Jacinda Hamilton said McQuade’s previous stint in prison should have acted as a “circuit breaker” and rather than being triggered into a downward spiral, his real addiction was “to profit from this commercial enterprise”.
Judge Ian Gault said he accepts that McQuade had a disadvantaged upbringing and that, combined with his sincere remorse, drug addiction and good prospects of full rehabilitation into society, earned some hefty discounts to his 10-year sentence start and nine months in prison.
McQuade must serve at least 40 percent of his parole — 25 months — before he can be considered for parole.