The Sunday Star-Times and Timaru Herald of New Zealand are reporting the story of two drug kingpins tied to the so-called "Science of Identity" Hare Krishna cult whose members reportedly include Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard and US Rep Tulsi Gabbard.
Since returning from India, where she learned first-hand about the foreign policy goals of Indian PM Narendra Modi, Gabbard has made a name for herself as a sharp critic of President Obama's approach to Islamic terrorism.
Ironically, the dope-smuggling ring bought hashish and marijuana by the ton -- from the Taliban.
How much? As the New Zealand papers explain: "...The Ring operated on such a vast scale that just one shipment was enough to lower the price of pot along the entire West Coast of America...."
Here are the details....
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Revealed: the Kiwis behind a billion dollar drug empire
by Bevan Hurley, Stuff.co.nz, April 26, 2015 (excerpts)
EXCLUSIVE: Once, they ran the world's biggest dope-smuggling ring. But after giving evidence against their violent criminal associates and doing 15-year stints in some of America's toughest jails, two New Zealanders have returned home to escape their lives of crime. This is their story - a story that has never before been told.
"He is 54 years old. He has nothing. He has done everything he can do to atone for his life as a hash smuggler."
So said lawyers acting for Patrick Christopher Bowler, as they pleaded for mercy at his sentencing in 2008 for trafficking 240 tonnes of hashish into the United States.
Bowler pleaded guilty to charges in the United States of conspiring to sell marijuana on a grand scale, and was convicted and sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in jail....
Bowler, a vegan yoga fanatic, was released in 2010, and has returned to New Zealand where he said he had led a "quiet peaceful life" since then.
But the court records suggest he may never have found himself incarcerated without the testimony of his former friend and fellow Kiwi smuggler, Gregory Paul Timewell, who also proved an invaluable source of information to authorities.
Timewell, was sentenced in 2010 for smuggling 120 tonnes of marijuana into the United States. He had been arrested in 1995 over an attempt to import 25 tonnes of hashish from Pakistan through Long Island to upstate New York and Canada, and cut a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import hashish, provide complete cooperation, give full disclosure of all his assets and forfeit his property....
According to the sentencing records, Timewell's testimony helped secure the prosecutions of over 180 defendants around the world, at least US$20 million in forfeited assets seized as well as tens of thousands of kilograms of marijuana seized in the United States and overseas, the court heard at his sentencing in 2010.
'Blondie' as he had been known, is now 65 and believed to be living under a new identity back in New Zealand. He has changed his name by deed poll. But the US court records reveal that at one time he was near the helm of a billion-dollar global drug empire....
Court documents show that between 1980 and 1995, a group of dealers loosely associated with the Kiwi duo smuggled thousands of tonnes of marijuana and hashish from Asia, mainly Thailand and Afghanistan, into Europe and North America.
"They were close to the biggest in the world at the time, they were tremendously active and with organisations all over the world," said Burton Ryan.
Ryan confirmed information contained in court documents about how the pair's influence extended from the tribal lands of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Thai generals, the IRA, Dutch shipping experts and the Hell's Angels on the West Coast of America. The court records show they used camels, trucks, planes, and shipping routes across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to shift their product....
read ... Revealed: the Kiwis behind a billion dollar drug empire
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'Chris Butler Worked to Help' Drug Kingpin tied to Taliban
by Bevan Hurley, Stuff.co.nz, May 17, 2015 (excerpts)
The Sunday Star-Times revealed last month how Bowler and fellow Kiwi Greg Timewell turned Federal witness in return for reduced sentences. When Timewell was arrested in 1995, he turned in his former mate Bowler, and Timewell's testimony led to hundreds of convictions worldwide. Bowler was arrested in Switzerland and became a prolific informant, flying to Thailand, Holland and around as a DEA undercover operative, and risking his life on perilous assignments.
They were released from prison in the United States in 2010 after serving lengthy sentences, and their stories were revealed in the Star-Times last month.
The paper has now tracked Timewell down to a remote border town in Thailand. He had changed his name by deed poll. He and his girlfriend declined to speak.
But Timewell's cousin Greta Jourdain said he was a bit of a "wild child" who had found solace in the Hare Krishna religion.
"He had a magnetism, he always had a beautiful lady on his arm."
Listed on Bowler's US indictment were his many aliases, which included the Guru, Top Hat, and Das Paramahaja, a misspelling of his initiated name Paramahansa Das. In the judge's sentencing notes, it was noted how Bowler "always seems ready to help others and share in the spiritual resources" while in prison.
"He leads classes in meditation to assist in keeping the level of the activities there calm. He teaches yoga and meditation classes there."
Rama Ranson remembers Bowler from his time within the Science of Identity.
"I have known him and his children my whole life.
"He was known through the whole cult, he was the man and everyone knew he had tonnes of money."
He says Bowler was heavily involved in the Science of Identity in New Zealand, which is believed to number several hundred.
Bowler declined a request for an interview.
In a statement, Jeannie Bishop, president of the Science of Identity Foundation, said: "As a branch of Vaishnava Hinduism, the Science of Identity Foundation recognizes the free will of every individual to follow the path of life they want to follow.
"Rama das Ranson has never been a member of the Foundation and we have respected his right not to follow the path of Vaishnava Hinduism.
"Patrick Bowler is not a member of the Foundation, but to our knowledge, is now sincerely trying to practice Vaishnava Hinduism, which includes using his life to help others.
"We are aware of certain allegations but do not wish to dignify them with a response other than to say you should be very critical of the motivation of people making many of these allegations.
"Chris Butler and the Foundation have worked to help many people get their lives back on track, including Patrick Bowler and will continue to do so."
read ... Disciples, deities and development
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Chris Butler Cult Tied to "Billion Dollar Drug Empire"
by Bevan Hurley, Timaru NZ Herald, May 17, 2015 (excerpts)
Using the protection of Parliamentary privilege (Alec Neill, MP for Waitaki) questioned whether Ti Leaf Productions Limited was "nothing more than a front for a religious cult or more importantly Mr Speaker, it is in fact an international drug ring"....
Patrick Bowler was drawn to the healthy living mantras of the Hare Krishna religion in the 1970s.
He became an adherent to Chris Butler's Science of Identity, an offshoot of mainstream Hare Krishna. He later became a master drug smuggler, earning millions of dollars as he trafficked hundreds of tonnes of hashish from Afghanistan and India to North America and Europe.
read ... Religious sect plans development in MacKenzie Basin
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