Six of the 24 people arrested following a police operation targeting methamphetamine dealers in Northland have appeared in court.
No pleas were taken when Taniora Motu, 48, Christine Marron, 46, Linda Marie Robson, 51, Haley Rose Fryer, 33, Lee David Allen, 37, and Shandy Tira Melissa Allen, 39, appeared before a JP in the Kaitaia District Court yesterday.
All are from Kaitaia. All except the Allens were remanded in custody.
The arrests followed the conclusion of Operation Ghost, an eight-month police investigation that targeted meth dealers in Northland, with officers executing dozens of search warrants over the past three days.
Police arrested 11 males and 13 females ranging in age from 18 to 57, and recovered 72 grams of meth with a street value of about $36,000, 500 grams of cannabis, three firearms, one Taser, stolen property, and about $47,000 in cash.
Motu is facing two charges of possessing methamphetamine for supply, one of supplying meth, one of possessing cannabis for supply, and another of unlawful possession of a weapon.
Marron is charged with two counts of supplying meth and one of permitting premises to be used.
Robson is facing three charges of possessing meth for supply, two of supplying meth, one of possessing cannabis for supply, and one of unlawful possession of a weapon.
Police charged Fryer with 11 counts of offering to supply meth, three of possessing meth for supply, and one of supplying meth. The Allens are charged with possessing cannabis for supply, selling and conspiring to sell cannabis.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said the police operation and the arrest of people, especially gang members and associates, was an extraordinarily important development.
"The community needs to see the police more regularly disrupting and destroying these criminal cockroaches, often known as gangs, who sneak into our small towns like Awanui where I was raised, spreading fear and menace among young families, believing they are untouchable.
"These reptilian drug merchants have been rounded up. Obviously the community is left to salve the wounds of meth."
Jones said in other parts of New Zealand, senior citizens he encountered did not ordinarily speak about meth.
In Northland, he said many grandparents pleaded with him to take a hard line against meth because they've witnessed in their communities.