Treasure map to cocaine found in secret codes, Bastion Point Russian sailor case hears

Detectives found what might be a modern-day treasure map in an encrypted messaging service after the son of an alleged cocaine importer was arrested.

But instead of digging up gold or silver bullion, police found garbage bags and a cocaine-riddled vitamin bottle, the High Court at Auckland heard today.

Two Polish men and a Russian sailor have pleaded not guilty to a raft of drug charges at the High Court in Auckland, and went on trial last week.

Detective Mark Pickles said police in 2017 arrested Ralph Wilk, the son of Ryszard Wilk, who last week denied importing cocaine when the trial started.

Pickles said messages found on the son’sSignal messaging app indicated an alleged drug racket was interested in an obscure part of Auckland’s Bastion Pt reserve.

An initial search was fruitless but Pickles returned to the site with three other police officers in July 2017.

“We decided to have a look in that general area again. The park’s huge so we needed a more concise search,” Pickles told the court.

The messages allegedly referred to local landmarks near a pathway to the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial.

“We factored in messages about the running water and the archway and again, nothing matched in that area, so we widened the parameters of the search.”

Jurors were told Pickles and another detective entered bush about 10-13m from the path.

“I located an area that loosely matched the instructions from the messaging.”

He found a small culvert in the bush with running water, saw trees bent together which could have matched an “archway or doorway” described in messages.

Pickles said he saw a black plastic bag sticking out of the mud.

He pulled it out and said he found two more bin liners underneath the top one.

“There was a white plastic bag to the right…that was just a dirty white plastic shopping bag and on top of that was [a] vitamin bottle.”

Prosecutor Brian Dickey said subsequent testing found the vitamin bottle contained cocaine.

The court has heard only 3.5g of cocaine was found at Bastion Pt.

But the Crown alleges the Wilks, Patryk Lukasz Lukasik, and Aleksandr Cherushev were part of a bigger drug racket.

The black bags were not tested for drug residues or for fingerprints.

Pickles said detectives believed the sodden, muddied bags would not have yielded any useful results from such tests.

Ryszard Wilk’s defence counsel Annabel Ives today asked Pickles if Bastion Pt typically received visitors, and if it was a popular tourist lookout.

Pickles said both these statements were true.

Ives also said the messages made no explicit mention of drugs, and added: “There’s no reference to a bottle or a rubbish bag or anything of that nature.”

Prosecutor Sam Teppett previously claimed the Wilks met with and allegedly paid Russian sailor Cherushev for about 4kg of cocaine.

Cherushev was chief officer on Discovery Bay, a container ship arriving from Balboa in Panama via Puerto Bolívar, Ecuador.

Jurors last week heard people who lived in or had ties to Moldova, Spain and Italy were also linked to the alleged cocaine conspiracy at various times.

Lukasik, Wilk and Cherushev all deny importing cocaine.

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