Twelve arrested in drugs busts

By Isaac Davison

Twelve people will face drugs charges after heavily armed police raided Tauranga properties over the past four days.

In the most recent raid more than 15 Tauranga policemen stormed a property in Welcome Bay at dawn yesterday, accompanied by police dogs.

Five fire units also attended in case hazardous substances were found.

Tauranga armed offenders squad head Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair said the routine AOS-assisted search at the Meanders Drive house went without a hitch.

Two occupants were detained under the Misuse of Drugs Act while the property was searched. They were questioned by police but no charges were laid and they were released yesterday afternoon.

While another address in Omanawa Rd yielded evidence of drug possession and supply, no drug-making materials were found at the Welcome Bay site, Mr Wright-St Clair said.

Neighbours to the Meanders Drive house reported being woken soon after 6am by the sound of dogs entering the property, followed by a swarm of AOS members rushing along the street and through neighbouring sections.

A loud-hailer called for occupants to leave the house, before the armed offenders squad rushed into the home.

One neighbour said that when she approached the house, one of the occupants was lying face-down in the garden with a policeman holding a firearm to his head.

She said it was horrid that drugs activity was suspected in the area.

"It's not the first time this has happened - I have to walk my kids to kindy, past these houses. We don't want to have to leave here, we simply can't afford it."

Carol McLaren, who lived two houses away from the property, said she had already chosen to leave the street because of crime in the area, and the police bust had made her more determined to leave.

"I've been robbed twice in the five years I've lived here ... and this just caps it off."

Despite being involved in a neighbourhood watch group, she said the stormed house was quiet and had never aroused her suspicion.

She worried that she might struggle to sell her house because the incident could give her street a bad name.

"It couldn't have come at a worse time, just as we put the house on the market."

The 12 people who were arrested will appear in the Tauranga District Court this week on a range of charges including cannabis possession, cultivation of cannabis, possession of methamphetamine for supply and firearms charges.

- NZ Herald

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