A fugitive linked to a large-scale drug bust was arrested by police after being on the run for nearly 12 months - then managed to evade authorities again after a community magistrate released him on bail.

David John Harries, 43, was arrested this week during a P bust after which police said he had been on the run for 14 months, breaching parole conditions in December 2010.

However, the Weekend Herald can reveal Harries was arrested three months ago during a random vehicle stop in Auckland. It is understood police opposed bail but he was released by a community magistrate and ordered to reappear at the Auckland District Court on December 9.

Harries failed to turn up and went on the run for another three months. He was tracked down by Waikato police and arrested on Wednesday morning at an Oruanui property, north of Taupo, with a 56-year-old man and a woman.


The police investigation, dubbed Operation Sonny, was set up to find Harries but led to the discovery of a central North Island methamphetamine operation. Police say one of the arrested trio was caught by armed offenders squad members leaving a building carrying a bag containing a firearm and another with $157,000 in cash.

Armed police continued searching the large property described as one of the largest P operations busted so far. They say large amounts of methamphetamine, chemicals and precursor materials (enough to produce up to 6.5kg of the drug), a number of firearms and cash were also spread over the house, several sheds, an old bus and a car.

Police also searched a Vogel St property in Cambridge and a Waitomo property as part of the dawn raids.

Quantities of methamphetamine, an unknown liquid and cash were taken from the Cambridge property.

But a source close to the family said the police overstated what was found. The cash seized was actually the money saved by a 14-year-old living there, which the source said was $800 in coins and notes in a glass jar.