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Desert Rd homicide: Jianqi Zhao pleads guilty to murder

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Focus: Buried in a shallow grave near the Desert Road. Two men have now been charged with murder in relation to Ricky Wang’s disappearance. Video / File

An Auckland drug boss who was in charge of a methamphetamine manufacturing and supply syndicate has pleaded guilty to the murder five years ago of an underling who he suspected of plotting to kill him.

The remains of Bao Chang Wang, 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, Jian Qi Zhao admitted knowing Wang but denied being involved in the man’s death. But in a follow-up interview with police last month, he gave a detailed account of the killing and his motivation for ordering it, according to court documents released today.

The 36-year-old stood next to an interpreter in the High Court at Auckland today as he pleaded guilty to the murder charge. Justice Graham Lang entered the conviction and remanded him in custody to await sentencing in November.

Zhao 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.

Jianqi Zhao appears via audio-visual link in the High Court at Auckland in June 2020. Photo / NZME
Jianqi Zhao appears via audio-visual link in the High Court at Auckland in June 2020. Photo / NZME

“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 learning from a third party that Wang wanted to kidnap, torture and kill him.

“Mr Zhao would lure Mr Wang to a drug manufacturing house in West Auckland, where he would ask Mr Wang why he was wanting to kill Mr Zhao,” documents state. “Then he
would be killed …”

Wang’s arms and legs were tied to a chair inside a Massey home serving as a clandestine lab.

“Mr Zhao began questioning Mr Wang, accusing Mr Wang of betraying him,” court documents state. “Mr Wang denied the accusations.”

Bao Chang "Ricky" Wang was killed in Auckland and his body dumped 370km away. Photo / Supplied
Bao Chang “Ricky” Wang was killed in Auckland and his body dumped 370km away. Photo / Supplied

But Zhao wasn’t satisfied and a short time later Wang was stabbed to death, he told police.

Wang’s body was 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 recalled.

Wang’s ex-wife was later told Wang had fled overseas because police were aware of his participation in the drug trade, Zhao told police.

Wang was never reported missing, but police discovered the 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 for 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.

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