Armed police who stormed a Napier house in the search for a suspect linked to a seizure of methamphetamine in Taupō walked out without their suspect on Tuesday.
Police surrounded the house off Nuffield Ave, Marewa, for more than three hours, appealing via loudhailer for a named and known drugs offender to exit the unit.
Detective Senior Sergeant David De Lange, of Hawke's Bay CIB, said about 11.30am police entered the unit and after a search believed the wanted man was not present.
Police, however, remained at the scene with a section of Nuffield Ave closed to traffic between the two entrances to Kettle Cres, and allowing only limited access to the crescent. They left the property and the area soon after midday.
De Lange said the search was related to the recovery of a quantity of methamphetamine early in the day in Taupō, which had resulted in the arrest of three men.
Aged 53, 43 and 24, the three were charged with possessing methamphetamine for supply, and one was also charged with obstructing or hindering police.
Residents in Nuffield Ave estimated police arrived at the address, a house on a back-section, between 7.30am and 8.30am.
Soon afterwards, Kettle Cres resident John Kent noticed police vehicles parked on the street at the front of his property, and then two officers in his back yard, over the fence from the home at the centre of the operation.
He heard police using a loudhailer named their suspect and, saying the house was surrounded by 26 armed police, calling on him to come out without anything in his hands.
The calls stopped but police remained around the house, but with no one having exited, police entered the house about 11am and searched for the man.
De Lange confirmed a woman who had been peaceably detained by the police in the street throughout the operation had been in the house when police arrived looking for the man.
She was believed to have left the house willingly and residents in the street said she had told police the man was not there.
The trio arrested after the drugs seizure earlier were appearing in court later today, De Lange said.