'Mr Asia' found murdered

14 October 1979

Mr Asia drugs boss Terry Clark
Mr Asia drugs boss Terry Clark (left) in the Bay of Islands, 1979 (NZ Herald/newspix.co.nz)

The gangland murder of ‘Mr Asia’ (Marty Johnstone) led to the demise of one of New Zealand’s largest ever drug rings. Johnstone was killed on the orders of drug lord Terry Clark. Divers found his mutilated body in a flooded quarry in England.

Clark (also known as Sinclair) and Johnstone had begun working with each other in the mid-1970s, when the Mr Asia drug ring began importing large quantities of heroin into New Zealand and Australia. Gisborne-born Clark headed their operations in Australia. He became a multi-millionaire, buying properties in the Bay of Islands and Fiji, and stashing money in safes and bank accounts around the world.

Clark ruthlessly protected his interests, killing a number of associates he suspected of informing. He fled to the United Kingdom in 1979 after Australian police found the bodies of two of Clark’s traffickers in a shallow grave in Melbourne.

Arrested in London, Clark was sentenced to life imprisonment for Johnstone’s murder. He died in a British prison in 1983, supposedly of natural causes.