Un­der­es­ti­mate meth at your peril

Tak­ing a stand over the grow­ing prob­lems with metham­phetamine in the South is Clutha Mayor Bryan Cado­gan.

Otago Daily Times - - OPINION -

THE ‘‘metham­phetamine pic­ture’’ that has rapidly evolved in the South Is­land over the last three years is hor­rific. Sui­cides have dou­bled since 2015, it’s harder to source mar­i­juana than meth, and bur­glar­ies have spiked.

Wake up, these is­sues are all in­ter­wo­ven and the one com­mon­al­ity that stands out to me is the cat­a­lyst to this night­mare. The gangs!

We are so Mary Pop­pins down here that the gangs have been able to in­tro­duce this new so­phis­ti­ca­tion to crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties right un­der our noses and, hugely, so­ci­ety re­mains anaes­thetised to what they are up to.

For the last few months, I have been, in my own in­ept ways, try­ing to find out more about the changes I am see­ing in my com­mu­ni­ties. So here’s a quick run­down of the key points I have found.

About three years ago, ev­ery ‘‘toy town tough’’ that was sell­ing mar­i­juana was given an of­fer they couldn’t refuse, and very quickly sup­ply dried up. Then, timed to per­fec­tion, the void was filed with meth and the game changed for­ever.

From the gangs’ per­spec­tive it’s a great busi­ness plan. They are in con­trol, as bucket­loads more money can be made sell­ing meth. The lid of a ‘‘pump bot­tle’’ can hold about $8000 worth, so you can move it around re­ally easy and hide it even more eas­ily. Po­lice have an im­pos­si­ble task of try­ing to catch any­one ‘‘in pos­ses­sion’’.

Re­mem­ber the he­li­copters full of seized mar­i­juana plants? Now you could eas­ily fit the same value of meth in a Dinky toy.

They are smart in the dis­tri­bu­tion net­work, pre­dom­i­nantly search­ing out mid­dle­aged women with no crim­i­nal con­vic­tions to deal for them. One snag though: these women are of­ten at the start of their own ‘‘meth jour­ney’’ , and who could pre­dict the out­come of a flush of money at the same time as you at­tempt to be the first per­son ca­pa­ble of re­sist­ing the scourge of ad­dic­tion?

It never ends well. In a few weeks their be­hav­iour be­comes too er­ratic to trust, so the good old boys move on to the next en­tre­pre­neur, leav­ing our dis­carded dealer to con­tem­plate how they are now go­ing to fund their needs. Guess who can solve that for them?

I strug­gle to get too up­set about the plight of the deal­ers. They give scant con­sid­er­a­tion to the mis­ery they as­sisted in cre­at­ing and whose lives are they are ru­in­ing?

Here’s the tricky part: who is af­fected? If you think it could be your kid, watch your grand­mother, that young clown that just started work, no, look at your boss.

The one thing that will catch you out is think­ing you can cat­e­gorise in­volve­ment. The only thing that breaks the en­tirely ran­dom na­ture is that this poi­son has im­mersed it­self right through­out so­ci­ety and even­tu­ally we will all be touched by this an­gel. I stress this point, be­cause if any­one is that naive to think they are above this then all they have done is fail to pro­tect their loved ones.

So what’s in store for any poor soul that will pay a ridicu­lously high price for one or two in­dis­cre­tions? And that’s all that is needed to be snared, as 80% of fe­males are ad­dicted on their first hit and no­one re­sists af­ter three hits.

Even­tu­ally, their teeth will fall out, their faces get cov­ered in scabs, they twitch and are er­ratic with huge mood swings. But that’s the in­ter­nal dilemma as your fi­nances and any­one that loves you enough to back you will be drained in a flash.

Your in­ner for­ti­tude will be eroded to the point that you will steal, cheat and lie, al­ways only fo­cused on main­tain­ing your habit. And pity help you when the in­evitable arises and you can’t pay, be­cause our mis­ery mer­chants take non­pay­ment very se­ri­ously.

They put in place ‘‘pay­ment pro­grammes’’, which means for guys you will be forced to steal to or­der and thank your lucky stars you’re not a girl, be­cause for fe­males the in­stal­ments are of a to­tally dif­fer­ent na­ture.

Un­der­stand this and then tell me of an­other dy­namic that has en­tered our main­stream so­ci­ety in the last three years that could be dis­tort­ing sui­cide and crime statis­tics.

This is a ma­jor new con­trib­u­tor that has hit the South Is­land so fast that so­ci­ety and our re­sponse mech­a­nisms, have not had time to evolve.

I am in awe of our ‘‘blue knights’’ and the courage our po­lice show ev­ery day. They are now con­fronted with volatile sit­u­a­tions in­clud­ing guns, high­speed chases and a manic de­ter­mi­na­tion to avoid de­tec­tion at lev­els never seen only a hand­ful of years ago.

Ba­si­cally, the so­phis­ti­ca­tion of the crim­i­nal­ity of the South Is­land has gone through a meta­mor­pho­sis in re­cent years as North Is­land op­por­tunists take part in this 21st­cen­tury gold rush. This is an un­prece­dented, or­ches­trated and con­trolled event.

The game has tight­ened up and how have we sup­ported our valiant up­hold­ers of law and or­der in the South? Abysmally!

In the North Is­land there is one po­lice of­fi­cer for ev­ery 528 peo­ple and in the South

Is­land that same ra­tio is one for ev­ery 608.

(This is based on of­fi­cial in­for­ma­tion fig­ures I re­quested, and ex­clud­ing

‘‘ser­vice cen­tre’’ num­bers).

Not to worry, we have all re­joiced in the an­nounce­ment of 1800 new po­lice of­fi­cers. Well, not all is as hoped for South­ern­ers. Take away the new of­fi­cers clas­si­fied as ser­vice cen­tre (520), and the dis­tri­bu­tion of new of­fi­cers to spe­cific ar­eas, has the re­main­ing 1280 split with the North set to gain 1016 while the South gets 264.

Hold the bus. Based on the cen­sus 2013 fig­ures that the

❛ I strug­gle to get too up­set about the plight of the deal­ers. They give scant con­sid­er­a­tion to the mis­ery they as­sisted in cre­at­ing and whose lives are they are ru­in­ing?

of­fi­cial in­for­ma­tion re­sponse in­sisted on us­ing, and that’s a ra­tio in the North Is­land of one new of­fi­cer for ev­ery 2574 peo­ple while the South gets one for ev­ery 4006. Let me re­it­er­ate: I will sup­port our po­lice force to the hilt, but who­ever worked this al­lo­ca­tion out has us down as the sleepy South, and ob­vi­ously obliv­i­ous to the gangs’ ‘‘pay­ment pro­gramme’’.

We all have a moral obli­ga­tion to stand up, right now, firstly, by be­ing more aware. How do you pro­tect your loved ones if your head re­mains in the sand? And sec­ondly, we need to get be­hind our ‘‘blue knights’’ and re­source them with more num­bers as they are de­fend­ing us in a lop­sided bat­tle that we can­not af­ford to give any more ground on.

Please, cen­tral gov­ern­ment, up the new po­lice num­bers so that all of New Zealand is get­ting one new of­fi­cer for ev­ery 2500 peo­ple and let’s re­source the ‘‘South­ern Blue Knights’’ so they can bet­ter de­fend us in this bat­tle.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

Metham­phetamine is highly ad­dic­tive.

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