A man arrested at Queenstown Airport from a flight from Auckland today had a substantial amount of methamphetamine destined for the tourist market, police say.
The arrest of the 31-year-old man was the result of a five-month operation involving Queenstown police, the Southern District organised crime group, and West Auckland police, Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis said.
"The Auckland phase has really only happened in the last two or three weeks, when we got onto where it was coming from and were able to identify the supplier and where the methamphetamine was being made,'' Mr Inglis said.
Police believed the methamphetamine would have been sold in Queenstown, where it was easy to make "fast money off the tourist industry''.
They also believed the man had made "several'' trips from Auckland to Queenstown with the drug, but police had to build up evidence before making the arrest.
"These things take a while to build up from when we can start and when we can finish, collecting the evidence to make sure we have enough.''
A number of other search warrants were executed in the Queenstown area relating to the distribution of methamphetamine, ecstasy and other drugs as part of the same operation.
"Queenstown's quite a small town, there's quite a few tourists going through it...it's always good to stop any supplier.''
One person was arrested in Auckland and a further three people were arrested in Queenstown on drug-related charges, Mr Inglis said.
An address in West Auckland was also searched and a clandestine lab was found, but police were still searching for the person responsible for the lab.
"Methamphetamine is a pretty harmful drug which is the result of numerous violent crimes in New Zealand, so if we can stop it at all and keep it out of the South Island would be good.''
- APNZBy Hana Garrett-Walker Email Hana