Drug dog plan underway to prevent drug trafficking at domestic airports

By Shelley Robinson, Andrew King

Both Christchurch and Dunedin airports are known gateways for drug trafficking of methamphetamine from the North Island. Photo / Christchurch Star
Both Christchurch and Dunedin airports are known gateways for drug trafficking of methamphetamine from the North Island. Photo / Christchurch Star

Drug detection dogs patrolling domestic terminals are a step closer.

Minister of Police Judith Collins received options about general screening for illicit drugs at domestic airports on August 11 as part of a plan to prevent and disrupt drug trafficking within New Zealand and between the North and South Islands.

Canterbury Inspector Bryan Buck said it requires a change of law to allow drug-detection dogs out of the customs-controlled international areas into the domestic terminals.

"From a policing point, we want to deploy drug dogs in those domestic areas . . . We know illicit drugs are moving about the country and that it is largely unchecked," he said.

Both Christchurch and Dunedin airports are known gateways for drug trafficking of methamphetamine from the North Island.

In November 2014, Kylie Puna was arrested on Yaldhurst Rd after a drug-run ended with a police chase and a crash.

She was found to be concealing 18.2g of methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of $18,200.

Puna brought the drugs in through the airport.

A woman in August 2014 was convicted to 12 months home-detention after she concealed $50,000 in cash and 56g of methamphetamine on her person before boarding a flight from Auckland to Christchurch.

On September 9, two men with gang connections were arrested at Dunedin Airport with a quantity of methamphetamine.

Sociologist and gang expert Jarrod Gilbert said it would have a significant expense to roll out across the country, so a pilot programme would be the way to go.

"When you are dealing with hundreds of people and their luggage that will take time and money so the question is, will it achieve bang for buck?" he said.

Inspector Buck said if it was just a matter of having the dogs there, it could be done tomorrow.

"Finding the balance between protecting people's rights and allowing the police to do their job is the key to its success," he said.

- Christchurch Star

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