Four Queenstown people and an Auckland man were arrested yesterday after police seized methamphetamine with a street value of tens of thousands of dollars they say was destined for Queenstown streets.
A 31-year-old Queenstown man arrested at Queenstown Airport was bringing a "substantial quantity" of meth into the resort from Auckland, police said.
Methamphetamine, ecstasy, cannabis and firearms were also seized when a series of search warrants were executed in Queenstown as the result of the five-month "Operation Moses", which involved local police and the Dunedin-based Southern District Organised Crime Group.
Also arrested in the resort yesterday were two other Queenstown men and a Queenstown woman, while an Auckland man was arrested in Auckland.
They would appear in the Queenstown and Auckland District Courts today on charges of possessing, possessing for supply and conspiracy to supply the drugs.
West Auckland police were still looking for one man following the discovery of a meth lab in West Auckland, Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, the officer in charge of the Southern District Organised Crime Group, said.
The officers were acting on information provided by Queenstown police.
Police believed there had been an "ongoing supply into the Queenstown area" for "four to five months", Mr Inglis said.
The drugs seized in the operation had a street value in the "tens of thousands".
"The Auckland phase has really only happened in the last two or three weeks, when we got on to 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."
Those arrested yesterday ranged in age from 26 to mid 30s, Mr Inglis said.
Queenstown police would continue to target the suppliers of illegal drugs as they targeted younger people and were generally related to organised crime groups, he said.
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden yesterday welcomed the news of the arrests, but admitted concern over drug-related crimes.
"It's really good to hear these sorts of things - it's comforting for us ... to know that the police are diligently monitoring these things to protect our community.
"However, one arrest for drug-related crimes in our community is one arrest too many."