A commercial methamphetamine business in a suburban Rotorua street went undetected for seven years.
The Ranginui St operation run by Glen Alexander Fleming was finally busted in a police raid last September, and the 32-year-old has now been jailed for eight years.
Neighbours had no idea what was happening at Fleming's home. The only thing they noticed was regular visits from couriers.
Ranginui St residents told The Daily Post yesterday they were shocked to learn a P lab was so close to home.
"He was very quiet but went out a lot at night," one neighbour, who did not want to be named, said of Fleming.
"We were all surprised to find out what happened as there are heaps of kids along the street. There didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary.
"We would see a courier van go to the house about three times a week. It was a bit strange but we just thought he was with Trade Me," she said.
"When the police came, they went down the driveway and telling him to come out of the house on the loudspeaker. The whole street was blocked off and the fire engine was there and a police shower set up.
"We saw him get arrested ... At the time it was all interesting but not the sort of thing you would want in your street."
Busted as part of a major Bay of Plenty police drug operation, Fleming pleaded guilty to 12 drug-related charges - manufacturing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine for the purpose of supply, five counts of possession of equipment to manufacture methamphetamine, possession of material for manufacturing, possession of precursor substances and three counts of unlawful possession of a weapon or firearm.
The Ngongotaha man was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua this week before Justice Mark Woodford.
Last October, police raided Fleming's lakefront home on Ranginui St and discovered 6.9 grams of methamphetamine, three firearms and about $179,000 cash.
Police also discovered precursor ingredients and equipment to make the class A drug.
The raid was part of Operation Safari - a six-month Bay-wide police operation that led to 10 arrests and chemicals seized that had the potential for making up to $2.4 million worth of methamphetamine (P).
In the High Court this week, Crown prosecutor Sarah-Louise Tapsell said Fleming was operating as a commercial business - evident in the amount of P found on the premises and the "hundred-odd thousand dollars of cash" found in his home. The Crown successfully forfeited the cash, two cars and the firearms. He had been manufacturing P for seven years before being caught.
Lawyer for Fleming Eb Leary said his client's offending was "driven by addiction".
"He was motivated by a certain personal requirement to have it ... he couldn't afford it, so he made it.
"He has made no wealth or gained personal possessions from it over this seven-year period."
Mr Leary said that Fleming had a viable claim to part of the money the Crown forfeited.
"But rather than lose the court time, he chose to waive his right to that percentage of money to make a clean start - it is part of his compliance and co-operation."
Justice Woodford said Fleming's offending was at the higher end of the scale as the judge reached a starting point of 11 years' jail, with an uplift of a year for a firearm being on the premises at the time methamphetamine was being manufactured.
"Firearms are a serious aggravating feature in drug cases," he said.
Justice Woodford gave Fleming credit for his early guilty plea, his assistance to police following his arrest, his remorse and willingness to seek drug treatment.
Fleming was sentenced to eight years' jail with a non-parole period of four years as a deterrence on a charge of manufacturing the Class A drug.
"You were a primary offender involved in the manufacture and supply of methamphetamine," he said.
"Methamphetamine destroys lives and harms society."
Fleming was also sentenced to six years' jail for possession of methamphetamine, three years' jail on seven counts of possession of equipment and precursor drugs for manufacturing the drug with, and 18 months' for unlawful possession of a firearms all to be served concurrently.