Suspect in $14 million cocaine smuggling case set free

The gold encrusted horse head used to smuggle 35kg of cocaine from Mexico
The gold encrusted horse head used to smuggle 35kg of cocaine from Mexico

A man arrested in New Zealand’s biggest ever cocaine bust is today a free man, after all charges against him were dropped.

Mexican Gonzalo Rivera Pavon was one of three men arrested last July after 35kg of cocaine was discovered concealed inside a decorative horse head encrusted with diamonds, imported from Mexico.

He was charged with importing and possessing the drug, which had an estimated value of $14 million.

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But Pavon, who was living in New Zealand in Christchurch, has always maintained he was innocent.

Last month he appealed on Givealittle to raise funds for his legal defence, claiming he was duped by a woman who said she was coming to New Zealand and needed his help.

This morning in the Auckland High Court – just days before he was due to face trial – the Crown withdrew all charges against him.

Pavon told Newshub he’s now looking forward to rebuilding his life.

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Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield said he’s pleased the police reviewed the file and the right decision was made.

The two other men arrested in the bust, Mexican Augustini Suarez and American Ronald Cook Snr, are due to go to trial next Monday in Auckland.

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