$3 million to tackle meth in Northland

By Mikaela Collins

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Police and ESR staff at the scene of a methamphetamine lab raid on Taipuha Road in December 2014. Photo/John Stone
Police and ESR staff at the scene of a methamphetamine lab raid on Taipuha Road in December 2014. Photo/John Stone

With methamphetamine being a "growing issue" and "driver of other crime" in Northland the region's police boss says $3million to reduce the demand for the drug is "sensible".

Prime Minister John Key announced yesterday $15 million seized from criminals under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act will be invested in anti-drug initiatives, with the largest portion of funding - $3million - going towards a joint police and Ministry of Health initiative to reduce methamphetamine demand in Northland.

As part of the new programme police will work with the Ministry of Health in identifying users at the receiving end of the drug chain so they can be offered the full range of support available.

Northland District Commander, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, said that any resources put towards tackling the supply and use of methamphetamine was a "sensible step" and could make a real difference to crime levels in the community.

"Unfortunately methamphetamine is a growing issue in our communities and its use is often a driver of other crime. Police take this issue very seriously as dealers of the methamphetamine cause extreme hardship to our communities and families," he said.

Mr Le Prou said in police investigations, police receive details of drug dealers' customers. He said Northland police were taking this opportunity to work on reducing the demand of methamphetamine, thereby reducing its use in the community and cutting one driver of crime.

There have been a series of methamphetamine-related incidents in Northland this year including a record-breaking bust in the Far North.

Northland police seized a record-breaking 494kg of methamphetamine on Ninety Mile Beach and at Totara North in June.
Northland police seized a record-breaking 494kg of methamphetamine on Ninety Mile Beach and at Totara North in June.

Northland police seized a record-breaking 494kg of methamphetamine on Ninety Mile Beach and at Totara North in June after an Ahipara fisherman became suspicious of men trying to launch a boat. The man's call to police sparked a chain of events which resulted in the seizure and the arrest of four men.

About a month later, in an unrelated event, police discovered a campervan parked on a Moerewa property which had been converted into a mobile methamphetamine laboratory.

About two weeks later suspicious behaviour at a coastal holiday home led to the discovery of a methamphetamine lab in Dolphin Place on the Tutukaka Coast.

These events came after another big bust in December 2014 on Taipuha Rd at Waiotira. That operation yielded 14 arrests and was sparked when police stopped a Mercedes being driven on an Auckland motorway by two teenage Head Hunter gang associates from Whangarei. A search of the vehicle uncovered about 2.5kg of methamphetamine.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said while police are committed to stopping the supply of methamphetamine, they are also looking at ways to reduce its use in the community.

"Drug dealers constantly exploit those who are addicted and drive them to commit more crime to fund their habit."

Mr Bush said Police and the Ministry of Health is still in the early stages of developing this initiative, and more detailed information will be available in due course.

- Northern Advocate

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