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Porn movie plus tinny for $35

Patrick Gower, NZHerald.co.uk, 6th August 2006

DVD pirates and drug pushers have joined forces to bring their punters a $35 porn movie and cannabis combo deal.

In a brazen marketing twist offered through cannabis tinny houses, they are also selling cannabis and a regular DVD movie for $30.

The Weekend Herald has learned that the Mongrel Mob and rival gang Black Power are offering the identical deal in their tinny houses in different parts of the North Island.

A cannabis "tinny" or bullet containing a small amount of the drug wrapped in tinfoil usually sells for $20.

Tony Eaton, executive director of the New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft, confirmed that its investigations had found evidence of the DVD-cannabis deals and said his group had told the police.

He said investigations led the federation to one of the gangs doing the deal in Auckland and separately to the other doing it in part of the lower North Island. Police were yet to execute warrants on the addresses.

Mr Eaton would not name the gangs, but the Weekend Herald understands they are the Mongrel Mob and Black Power.

"They are selling them [DVDs] part-and-parcel with cannabis through their tinny houses. They're doing combo deals.

"This is a big worry for us. These gangs are organised and all they are doing is putting another item down their distribution channels. Unfortunately, they are looking at us."

Tinny houses are one of the main methods of cannabis distribution to young people and police have previously voiced concern that other drugs such as methamphetamine, known as P, have been pushed through their established channels.

The federation, which is the Motion Picture Association's piracy watchdog in New Zealand, has 12 private investigators contracted to it and is running 50 separate investigations into commercial DVD piracy.

In another investigation, Mr Eaton said the federation would be laying a complaint against a Christchurch woman allegedly caught recording a movie trailer before the screening of the animated film Cars.

Hoyts Cinema staff contacted management and the woman, who was sitting with her family, was approached and her camcorder seized.

Mr Eaton said no one had been charged in New Zealand for recording screenings, but police were investigating a similar case in the South Island.

This week, the federation revealed it had sued 14 New Zealanders who among them sold more than 10,000 pirated DVDs on NZ websites, including Trade Me. Mr Eaton said they had shut down the distribution of pirated DVDs at flea markets and had taken down 1700 pirate DVD sellers from the Trade Me site.

"We've shut down the markets, and now we are casting our net wider."

Worldwide, the Motion Picture Association estimates piracy cost the film industry US$6.1 billion ($9.9 billion) in potential revenue last year.

Mr Eaton said some New Zealand dealers were making thousands of dollars a week through pirated DVDs and it was believed there were up to 30 operations in South Auckland alone.

Although all types were attracted to the trade, Mr Eaton, a former police officer, said links between organised crime and DVD piracy in New Zealand were strong.

He had heard from police officers who had raided gang houses and found piles of DVDs and not acted because they were unaware that charges under the Copyright Act carried a maximum penalty of five years.

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