Drug scourge: top cop cracks down


‘‘We're try­ing our best to keep metham­phetamine and other drugs out of the area.’’

Dunedin po­lice’s for­mer South­ern Dis­trict or­gan­ised crime team leader has seem­ingly made it his mis­sion to stamp out the in­flux of hard drugs into Queen­stown and Cen­tral Otago in his new role based in the re­sort.

Otago Lakes Cen­tral’s Crim­i­nal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch head, De­tec­tive Se­nior Sergeant Mal­colm Inglis, was well-known for lead­ing some ma­jor busts in the Dunedin re­gion and he’s al­ready made his mark in this re­gion’s war on drugs.

In Inglis’ lat­est st­ing, seven search war­rants were ex­e­cuted with five peo­ple ar­rested in a three­day op­er­a­tion last week. The ar­rests re­lated to sup­ply of metham­phetamine and cannabis crimes.

Three Queen­stown, three Alexan­dra and one Wanaka ad­dress were searched. Two men and three women, aged be­tween 21 and 46, have al­ready ap­peared or would ap­pear in the Queen­stown or Alexan­dra dis­trict courts.

The ad­dress where metham­phetamine was found was a Queen­stown prop­erty.

‘‘It’s just part of our on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into drugs in the area at the mo­ment,’’ Inglis said.

‘‘We’re try­ing our best to keep metham­phetamine and other drugs out of the area.

‘‘We’re cer­tainly well aware of the harm meth does in the com­mu­nity.’’

Inglis joined Queen­stown po­lice in Septem­ber af­ter 38 years polic­ing in Dunedin, and de­spite head­ing two other ma­jor drug busts last month, he de­nied be­ing brought to the re­gion specif­i­cally to tar­get drugs.

Less than a month into his new role, Inglis led op­er­a­tions re­sult­ing in the seizure of more than 40 cannabis plants and a large amount of metham­phetamine para­pher­na­lia from a Clyde ad­dress, and the seizure of $200,000 worth of ec­stasy in a sep­a­rate bust in Clyde.

Asked if he was here specif­i­cally to tar­get drugs, Inglis said: ‘‘No.’’

But drugs were ‘‘fairly preva­lent’’, es­pe­cially ec­stasy, LSD, date rape drugs like ke­tamine and now metham­phetamine. ‘‘They are all a con­cern,’’ he said.

It would de­pend on ‘‘who comes into town’’ as to what was around, but Inglis said meth was be­com­ing a real con­cern for the re­gion.

‘‘All of a sud­den you can see a spike be­cause of who’s around.’’

Christchurch gangs and peo­ple from ’’up north’’ were the main sup­pli­ers into Queen­stown and Cen­tral Otago, usu­ally by road or through the post, he said.

Seizures at Queen­stown Air­port had been steady since 2011, where an av­er­age of about 26 in­ter­cep­tions per year were recorded, Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act doc­u­ments show.

The most com­mon seizures, aside from pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion, were non-pre­scribed con­trolled medicines and cannabis.

Up un­til Septem­ber this year, 13 in­ter­cep­tions had been made at the air­port, in­clud­ing six of pre­scrip­tion drugs and four of cannabis.

Last year there was one in­stance of metham­phetamine.

A manhunt from Roxburgh which ended with road spikes at the Clyde Dam last Thurs­day night was un­re­lated, and in­quiries were con­tin­u­ing, Inglis said.

De­tec­tive Se­nior Sergeant Mal­colm Inglis.

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