More police dedicated to targeting drugs and organised criminal groups are needed to stem the flood of methamphetamine into Northland and the manufacture of the destructive drug in the region, according to a senior police representative.
Police seized a whopping 448kg of methamphetamine in the back of a campervan on Sunday and recovered a further 46kg found buried in bags on 90 Mile Beach after an Ahipara fisherman became suspicious of men trying to launch a boat.
The good Samaritan's call to police sparked a chain of events which resulted in the record-breaking seizure and the arrest of four men, so far.
Police said the meth, which they believed was made in another country and brought ashore by boat, would have been worth nearly $500 million if sold on the streets.
Police are continuing to investigate where the meth may have been produced and who else was involved.
Police Association president Greg O'Connor said he had visited the Far North police troops about two months ago and was told meth, or P as it is also known, was a factor in most of the jobs they were called to.
"P and organised crime go together, and the P problem is evidence of the extent of organised crime activity in New Zealand. Believing that a P problem can be confined to a certain segment of society is folly, as the issue with rising violence and P houses is showing," he said.
After visiting Kaitaia police station, he said the workload for the number of staff available was putting officers under pressure.
A reduction in funding for police investigating organised crime made it difficult to fight the P problem.
"Staffing levels in Northland are chronic. What is needed is extra resources to be dealing with organised crimes," Mr O'Connor said.
"Police organised crime groups have been decimated over the years, and they are doing some good work but they are being constantly redirected to other work."
He said the record haul was not the result of a sophisticated police and Customs operation but rather they had stumbled across it thanks to good information from an observant member of the public.
That made him question just how much more may have been imported undetected along the coast.
Police were asked to comment on the claims about chronic understaffing in Northland but were not able to respond by edition time.
Meanwhile, police have 20 detectives, including members of the Auckland-based Police Organised Crime team, working on the drug haul investigation with support from staff in Kaitaia and wider Northland.