Man, 21, dies after one sip of beer ‘laced with meth given to him by friend’

A young man has tragically died after drinking a beer laced with methamphetamine, sparking a large-scale police drug inquiry. Aiden Sagala, 21, from Auckland, New Zealand, reportedly innocently sat down after work to drink a can of his Honey Bear House Beer when he noticed that his drink “tasted salty”. Having told his sister and her partner that his beer tasted off, he begun rolling on the floor in agony as he had a fatal seizure.

Mr Sagala was allegedly given a 24 pack of Honey Bear House Beer as a gift by a work mate in March this year. He died five days after sipping the first one in the pack.

After suffering from a seizure, during which time he told his sister he thought he was going to die, he was rushed to Auckland City Hospital, New Zealand, where he died five days later. 

A 40-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with manslaughter over the death, though he has pleaded not guilty. 

Court documents showed the man is charged with having imported beer cans which contained methamphetamine under his control, and failing to take reasonable care to avoid the cans endangering human life, thereby committing manslaughter.

Mr Sagala’s death sparked a large-scale police drug inquiry entitled Operation Lavender, leading officers to warn against drinking cans of Honey Bear House Beer.

Auckland City CIB Detective Inspector Glenn Baldwin said the investigation into the importation of meth and other drugs is still ongoing, and that officers could not rule out any further charges.

“Sagala’s tragic death initiated Operation Lavender, which has seen numerous serious drugs charges already laid, and a large quantity of methamphetamine and other drugs recovered at an address in Manukau,” he said.

“The Operation Lavender team uncovered a significant drug importation, in which drugs in liquid form were allegedly being imported concealed in beer cans.”

Police said the value of the drug seizure could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The man has been remanded on bail and will appear at the High Court in Auckland on June 14.

His lawyer Emma Priest entered a not guilty plea on the manslaughter charge and elected trial by jury on his behalf.

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