Northland police believe they have put a significant dent in those dealing in methamphetamine after the arrest of 24 people and seizure of cash, drugs, firearms, a Taser and stolen property.
The arrests followed the conclusion of Operation Ghost, an eight-month police investigation that targeted meth dealers in Northland.
Officers searched 20 properties in Whangārei, Dargaville, Kawakawa, Moerewa, Kaikohe, Kaitāia and Awanui over the past three days but police area commander for Whangārei and Kaipara Inspector Justin Rogers said more arrests will be made in the coming days.
Gang members and associates were among those arrested and some have already appeared in the Whangārei District Court on mostly drug-related charges.
As at 5pm yesterday, police had arrested 11 males and 13 females ranging in age from 18 to 57 years, and recovered 72g of meth with a street value of about $36,000, 500g of cannabis, three firearms, a Taser, stolen property and about $47,000. More than 200 drug-dealing charges have been laid.
"This is an outstanding result. These people were actually dealing in misery in our community and it will put a significant dent in those people," Rogers said.
Officers from Tāmaki Makaurau and the National Organised Crime Group assisted Northland police during the operation.
Rogers said more than 100 people identified from the operation have been referred to the Ta Ara Oranga meth programme for treatment.
The Ministry of Health last year gave the Northland District Health Board and police $3m for the Te Ara Oranga Methamphetamine Demand Reduction strategy.
The money came under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
Rogers said the arrests would go a long way towards reducing the supply of meth in Northland.
"There is a significant methamphetamine issue in Northland, however it is not a problem that is isolated to this region — it is an issue across the country.
"These arrests will not stop here."
Rogers said police have received a lot of positive feedback from people who were pleased to see not only drug arrests, but also the focus on public education about meth harm.
NDHB general manager mental health and addictions, Ian McKenzie, said more than 300 meth users have been referred for treatment to Ta Ara Oranga in the last six months.
"Working together with police is what's made the biggest difference in our community. Eliminating meth requires a community approach and Te Ara Oranga has been designed to achieve this."