Meth dealer couldn’t hide his car as John Doe

A big meth dealer and high-stakes poker player registered his ute under the name John Doe to avoid it being seized by the police. He did not succeed.

Shane Tamihana also had a house in Flaxmere, Hastings, in the name of a longtime gambling pal. He lost that too.

An order issued by the High Court this week seized the ute, the house and cash and bank deposits totaling more than $90,000 obtained through Tamihana’s criminal activities, under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The law allows police to search for assets that criminals have accumulated through their wrongdoing and request that they be forfeited to the Crown.

Tamihana, also known as Shane Thompson, was jailed for 13 years in 2018 for trafficking methamphetamine. He is not eligible for parole until November 2024.

At the time of his sentencing, he was described as the top man in an organized crime ring that pushed $4.2 million worth of methamphetamine in the Hawke’s Bay area over an 11-month period in 2016 and 2017.

Police found an additional 6 pounds of drugs at the home of his co-abuser, Petera Gamlen, and more than $170,000 total in cash from the two men.

When he wasn’t a drug dealer, Tamihana enjoyed considerable success at the gaming tables, winning the main event at Sky City Casino’s Poker Festival in 2016.

He reportedly earned over $100,000 from gambling over two years and was known for his aggressive play and habit of exclaiming “Later Bo” as he forced opponents to fold.

But he has now been dominated by the police asset recovery unit, which has gone after the wealth he has made from his criminal activities.

The latest confiscations add to a series of seizures in 2018, which took five vehicles and $130,000 from Tamihana and Gamlen, who is currently serving 11 years and three months in prison.

Detective Sergeant Alex Macdonald of the Asset Recovery Unit admits this week’s final confiscations of Tamihana’s earnings were “a long time coming”.

But he said they showed the unit’s ability to “work through the layers to identify hidden assets in the names of candidates on behalf of criminals.”

The Flaxmere house had been held in the name of longtime Tamihana associate and playmate Michael Allison.

But Judge David Gendall concluded it was ‘more likely than not’ that the house was purchased in Allison’s name on Tamihana’s behalf and was therefore ‘tainted property’ subject to seizure.

Macdonald said actions targeting Tamihana also target organized crime groups more broadly.

“Mr. Tamihana is linked to the Mongrel Mob and his offense involved a number of patched members, some of whom also had property forfeited to the Crown,” he said.

“The Asset Recovery Unit will continue to target organized crime groups in the Hawke’s Bay community and seize their money and assets where they were obtained illegally.”

Regarding the 2006 Toyota Hilux under the John Doe name, Macdonald said it was not common to see vehicles registered under false names in an effort to avoid seizure.

More often, he says, they are registered in the name of a family member, or simply left to the previous owner. Sometimes people know their name was used for a criminal’s car registration, sometimes they don’t.

However, Macdonald said he saw a few other vehicles registered with made-up names.

Examples included “B Power” and “Jack Pott”.

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