$50m meth haul hid­den among safety lights

The Press - - Front Page - DO­MINIC HAR­RIS AND SAM SHER­WOOD

Po­lice say more ar­rests are likely after they seized $50 mil­lion of metham­phetamine des­tined for the streets of Christchurch.

The South Is­land’s largest haul of the drug came when a 49-kilo­gram ship­ment was dis­cov­ered in 40 pack­ages hid­den among a cargo of safety lights on Novem­ber 1.

The op­er­a­tion ended on Tues­day with armed raids in Christchurch and Auck­land.

Two Christchurch men, aged 25 and 31, ap­peared in the Christchurch District Court yes­ter­day charged with im­port­ing a class A drug and pos­ses­sion of metham­phetamine for sup­ply.

They were granted in­terim name sup­pres­sion and re­manded in cus­tody un­til Mon­day.

Canterbury district crime man­ager De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Cor­rie Par­nell said the drugs were brought into Christchurch from Mex­ico in pack­ages weighing be­tween 1kg and 1.2kg.

The drugs had a po­ten­tial street value of $50m and the seizure pre­vented $60m worth of ad­di­tional com­mu­nity harm, he said.

Po­lice be­lieved much of the drug was ‘‘des­tined to end up on the streets of Christchurch’’.

Par­nell said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was still ‘‘in its in­fancy’’, with fur­ther ar­rests likely.

‘‘We have sig­nif­i­cant in­quiries ahead of us in terms of both Cus­toms, po­lice and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies.’’

‘‘Our team has worked re­lent­lessly over the last fort­night to bring this op­er­a­tion to the state it’s in to­day.

‘‘These drugs, should they have made it to the streets, would have caused sig­nif­i­cant harm to peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties, not just in Canterbury, but across the coun­try.’’

Metham­phetamine wrecked lives, broke down fam­i­lies and neg­a­tively im­pacted the com­mu­nity, he said.

‘‘It takes en­force­ment and a whole-of-Gov­ern­ment ap­proach, along with ed­u­ca­tion to re­duce de­mand and vic­tim­i­sa­tion caused by this drug.’’

Cus­toms man­ager Joe Can­non said the meth­ods peo­ple were us­ing to bring drugs into the coun­try were ‘‘con­stantly evolv­ing’’.

‘‘There’s al­ways an in­cen­tive to bring this prod­uct into the coun­try be­cause of the price it fetches.

‘‘This seizure was the re­sult of risk-pro­fil­ing and tar­get­ing work that Cus­toms car­ries out for all goods, peo­ple and craft com­ing into New Zealand – what­ever the re­gion or method of im­port.’’

Cor­rie Par­nell

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