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Desert Rd homicide: Meth syndicate boss Jian Qi Zhao sentenced for murder of ‘Ricky’ Wang

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By Craig Kapitan of NZ Herald

Bao Chang Wang - known as Ricky Wang - has been missing since 2017.

The body of Bao Chang Wang, also known as Ricky, was found near Desert Rd in March 2020.
Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

A methamphetamine syndicate boss has been sentenced to life in prison for luring an underling to a West Auckland clandestine lab where he was tied to a chair and stabbed to death.

Jian Qi Zhao, 36, who has spent the past two years in prison for drug convictions, returned to the High Court at Auckland today as Justice Graham Lang announced the murder sentence, which will include a minimum term of imprisonment of 12 years and three months.

“Your offending involved the planned and calculated execution of a person who you thought to be a threat to your organisation and to you personally,” Lang noted as Zhao, wearing all black, stood between security and an interpreter in the dock.

The High Court at Auckland

Jian Qi Zhao was sentenced in the High Court at Auckland.
Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

The murder sentence will be served concurrently with his six years and seven months’ imprisonment for methamphetamine supply.

The remains of Bao Chang Wang, also known as Ricky, were found in a shallow grave covered in concrete near Desert Rd and Tongariro National Park in March 2020 – three years after he had vanished.

In an interview with police two months after the grisly discovery, Zhao admitted knowing Wang but denied being involved in the man’s death. But his story changed earlier this year after he sat down with police again and gave a detailed account of the killing, along with his motivation for ordering it.

He told police that in 2017 both he and Wang had been part of the meth syndicate. He received methamphetamine ingredient ephedrine and paid the others, while Wang “undertook the manufacturing”, according to an agreed summary of facts.

“By early August 2017, Mr Zhao was concerned about Mr Wang’s behaviour and intentions,” according to court documents.

“Also, Mr Wang had accumulated significant debts with Mr Zhao, but had become unreliable in various ways including due to heavy methamphetamine use.”

Zhao told police he devised a plan to confront and kill Wang after hearing from a third party that Wang wanted to kidnap, torture and kill him.

The plan was to lure Wang to a drug manufacturing house in Massey, where Zhao said he intended to confront the underling about the alleged betrayal. With his arms and legs tied to a chair, Wang denied the accusations. But Zhao wasn’t satisfied and a short time later Wang was stabbed to death, he told police.

Wang’s body was then covered in ice and placed in the bathtub at the residence, and it was later placed in a newly purchased chest freezer as it was decided over the course of several days where to put the body, Zhao said.

Wang’s former wife was later told Wang had fled overseas because police were aware of his participation in the drug trade, Zhao told police. He was never reported missing.

Justice Lang referred today to victim impact statements from Wang’s former wife and his father, which were not read aloud in court.

“The statements make it clear that your offending has devastating consequences from which they will likely never recover,” the judge said, describing the victim as a father of two who was the only child of his parents.

“Mr Wang’s father suffered a heart attack when he learned his son died in New Zealand.”

Police discovered Wang’s body and began unravelling the case three years later after Yanlong Piao, who helped dump the body, went to police saying he was consumed with guilt. He was sentenced in 2020 to 14 months in prison for being an accessory to murder after the fact.

Months later, Yuzhen Zhang was sentenced to six months’ home detention on the same accessory charge after the civil engineer said he only helped dispose of the body out of a displaced sense of loyalty to his friend Piao.

Others have pleaded not guilty and await trial.

This story was originally published in the New Zealand Herald.

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