While investigating the homicide of Paeroa businessman Jordan Voudouris, police have arrested a man convicted and wanted for sentence on serious drugs charges who has been on the run since December 2010.
The arrest appears unrelated to the homicide investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Whitehead said.
In a combined Waikato and Bay of Plenty Police operation, Police on Sunday arrested Steven Mehrtens, 57, who has been wanted for more than two and a half years after breaching electronic bail while awaiting trial on methamphetamine charges.
Mehrtens was today convicted and sentenced to two months' imprisonment when he appeared in the Tauranga District Court on a charge of wilful damage for removing his electronic monitoring bracelet and fleeing. He was remanded in custody and will reappear in the Auckland High Court next Wednesday for sentencing on the drugs charges.
Mr Whitehead said Mehrtens had originally been arrested and charged in May
2010 as part of Operation Acacia, a police investigation into the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine. He was remanded in custody, but was granted electronically monitored bail. In December 2010 he breached his bail by removing his monitoring bracelet, before going into hiding.
Mr Whitehead said Mehrtens subsequently failed to appear for trial on the drugs charges in December 2011, and was convicted in absentia in the High Court at Auckland on a charge of Conspiracy to Deal Methamphetamine, two charges of Manufacturing Methamphetamine, a charge of Possession of Methamphetamine for Supply, and two charges of Selling Methamphetamine.
Mr Whitehead said Police had learnt of Mehrten's whereabouts during the course of their inquiries into Mr Voudouris' death, and had found him living on a small rural property near Katikati. A 51-year-old woman living on the property has been charged with being an accessory after the fact, as Police allege she had been assisting Mehrtens to avoid arrest. She will appear in the Tauranga District Court on 15 October 2012.
In the meantime, Mr Whitehead said the investigation into Mr Voudouris' death was continuing, and Police were still interested in hearing from anyone with information relevant to the inquiry. People with information can contact the Operation Olive team on 07 862 8744, or anonymously via CrimeStoppers, ph 0800 555 111.