The uncovering of a Napier man's alleged methamphetamine, LSD and ecstasy dealing last year sparked police Operation Greenstone which led to yesterday's busting of a multi-million-dollar drugs ring, says one of New Zealand's top drugs investigators.
Regarded as an end-of-the chain player allegedly dealing in Hawke's Bay for the mainly Auckland-based ring, Kurt John Crozier, 21, was among 10 people arrested yesterday. He was charged with supplying and offering to supply methamphetamine, LSD, and ecstasy and and offering to sell cannabis.
Despite the total of seven charges, and methamphetamine dealing's maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment, he was granted bail unopposed when he appeared before Judge Tony Adeane in the Napier District Court yesterday. He was remanded to appear again on September 20.
Eight men and a woman were appearing in Auckland courts as a result of a five-month inquiry headed by the police Organised and Financial Crime Agency's Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Cahill, a former member of the Napier CIB.
The charges against Crozier represent multiple arrangements alleged to have been made in the second half of last year, and Mr Cahill told Hawke's Bay Today the "good activity" by detectives in the Bay in relation to it "sparked" the operation which climaxed yesterday.
It was a result of concerns throughout New Zealand over the increased supply of ecstasy-type pills, involving the altering of the chemical makeup of the drugs in an attempt to circumvent the law and avoid detection.
Drugs identified during the operation include 4-MEC, bk-MDEA, Alpha-PVP and N-Ethlamphetamine. Mr Cahill said: "There is a lot of ignorance amongst users of these drugs, about what the pills contain and the level of danger associated with using them."
He told Hawke's Bay Today people involved in the retail end were often not those most would generally associate with such offending. "They're people like students, that sort of person."
Blue 4-MEC pills were found in the Bay in June last year when a group of rookie dealers, including two teenage girls, were exposed in a chance discovery at an Onekawa flat, where they thought the pills they'd bought in Auckland with a bank loan were ecstasy.
Mr Cahill said yesterday's "activity" would have an impact on the supply of "harmful drugs that are regularly leading to hospital admissions".
The investigation identified a "sophisticated syndicate" sourcing the drugs from an international supplier: "The drugs are being imported in powder form from China and Singapore."
New Zealand legislation relating to the "analogues" had proved invaluable, when the lack of such legislation in other countries had impacted on the ability to combat designer drugs worldwide, he said.
The drug-offending targeted involved multimillion-dollar sales, with one dealer alone - "by his own records" - buying $4.5 million worth of pills from the New Zealand importer.
The investigation had also identified international money-laundering and inquiries continued throughout Asia.