A per­ni­cious prob­lem with a cap­i­tal ‘P’

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - TOM O'CON­NOR

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.

PO­LICE

Meth’ is a grow­ing prob­lem

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