A pernicious problem with a capital ‘P’
Another festive holiday season draws to a close with yet another spate of petty crimes for police to try to solve. While most burglaries which come to court seem to be committed by adventurous youngsters seeking the adrenalin high of evading detection or capture, others are the work of career criminals. An alarming increase in the number of these burglaries appear to be undertaken to fund a drug habit, particularly methamphetamine addiction.
With a street value of around $1 million a kilogram, meth, ice or P is more than twice that of gold. Feeding a meth addiction obviously takes much more than the average wage or salary and the crimes police uncover which provide that funding are only the tip of a large iceberg.
The physical and mental damage sustained by meth users is matched only by the mayhem and tragedy they inflict on their families, friends and even total strangers.
Children lose their parents, spouses lose their partners and too many people lose their lives while the soulless parasites who deal in this truly evil trade collect huge amounts of money for very little effort.
Nothing can excuse or mitigate the actions of meth producers or dealers. It matters not one jot if their home lives were less than ideal or someone neglected their potty training. They are callous dealers in almost certain death and must be treated as such.
Meth is much easier to produce than gold, quicker than growing cannabis and cheaper than providing a week of roast dinners. It is much more harmful than alcohol abuse and tobacco and as deadly as cancer. It is without doubt the most serious threat we have faced as a nation since the world wars of the last century and we are not ready to meet it by a long way.
From their beginnings about 40 years ago, the motorcycle gangs in New Zealand have evolved from egotistical youths on loud machines dressed in infantile regalia to highly organised and disciplined groups not unlike the Mafia in the United States of the 1930s. Some have a national hierarchy and sophisticated offshore associations for drug and raw materials supply, particularly in Asia
While high-profile gangs are shaping up for a turf war to control the highly lucrative drug trade, Tribal Huk in Ngaruawahia and others have taken a stand against the meth trade. In one bizarre incident, a clergyman involved with a gang announced that he had a pistol and intended to shoot meth dealers.
While anyone can called himself a clergyman and any gang member can act against drug dealers they may well be acting out of self-interest to protect their own illegal operations rather than motivated by altruistic concern for the community at large. They are, however, a clear indication that this particular drug is a step too far even for those who engage in other crimes.
What we don’t need, and cannot allow to happen, is vigilante justice between gangs or other groups who no longer seem to have confidence that the police can deal with the situation.
While the courts can, and have, seized bank accounts and assets gained from the proceeds of crime, some dealers quickly stopped investing in expensive assets and live a high life on cash alone or invest offshore.
We need huge new investment in police anti-drug powers and capability, as well as penalties that make the profits in drugdealing pale into insignificance.
That will take political courage and politicians need to be ready to answer some hard questions on the matter.
Meth’ is a growing problem