Mix with drugs and gangs and you will go to jail.
That was the succinct message Judge Duncan Harvey conveyed when sentencing a 19-year-old mother to nearly two years' jail when she appeared in Whangarei District Court on a variety of charges relating to methamphetamine.
A police examination of a cellphone revealed Hariata Maxwell had offered to sell methamphetamine 11 times, supplied methamphetamine on three occasions and had once offered to supply cannabis over a seven-week period.
She pleaded guilty to all charges which involved 2.9g of methamphetamine.
The lure of drugs and gangs was nothing new, according to an experienced Northland police officer.
Northland Detective Senior Sergeant John Miller, who runs the annual blitz on cannabis and was previously part of a police team targeting drugs in the region, said unfortunately the involvement of young people with gangs was not new.
"People have been selling for the gangs for a long time and some of them get involved at a very young age," he said.
"There is no shortage of people willing to come forward and work for the gangs to make a dollar. It's all good until they get caught."
Judge Harvey said, if the court was to be seen as weak in sentencing, then it would encourage the gangs to recruit young people.
"There is a need for me to send a message that this offending can not be tolerated. Meth must be the most destructive drug known to man," Judge Harvey said.
"I have to send a message to young people in the community, if they are stupid enough to let the gangs influence them, like you, they will be sent to prison. Because meth is such a terrible problem in our community, I have no doubt that only a sentence of imprisonment will send the right message."
He expressed some sympathy towards Maxwell.
"I don't think for a moment you became involved in meth because it was suddenly a good idea. You became involved with people older, wiser and more evil than you and they got you to sell for them."
He said it was well-known gangs were behind much of the drug-making and dealing in Northland and there were a number of people working for them.
Maxwell was sentenced to one year, 11 months on each of the meth charges and two months on the cannabis charge, to be served concurrently.
In March, Judge de Ridder made similar comments when sentencing 19-year-old mother Bishop Holtz to a three-year jail sentence for dealing 30g or $30,000 worth of methamphetamine.
He was not convinced the teen mum was behind the dealing operation.
"Others are behind this you have been actively encouraged to take part in this. With active encouragement of others, you were led into this offending."
He said her four brothers had been in and out of jail and were well known to police and the courts. However, she had no previous convictions.