Police go beyond duty for big bust
Perseverance and excellent detective work which led to the biggest drug bust in New Zealand’s history has been recognised with two special police awards.
Sergeant Kevin Anderson and Detective Constable Thomas Nankivell received police commissioner’s commendations for their professionalism and commitment leading to the seizure of 498kg of methamphetamine in 2016.
The pair received the commendation at an awards ceremony held at Kaitaia police station on Wednesday.
A number of other officers were also recognised for long-service awards.
The seizure in June 2016 came after a two-day investigation, which unfolded a bit like a detective novel.
Sergeant Anderson said the crazy thing was no police officials would believe what was going on. But he persisted with the detective work, after getting a call from a friend saying some people were trying to launch a $100,000 boat at Shipwreck Bay on Ninety Mile Beach.
The very large boat was not suitable for being launched on the beach and was damaged. But the suspects returned from Auckland with a brand new boat, Sergeant Anderson said.
That boat was later found abandoned on Ninety Mile Beach, with large nets that had been cut.
Suspicious that a drug transfer had taken place, the police team continued their investigation.
“We ran around trying to find them and went to every motel in town,” Sergeant Anderson said.
“They bought up every suitcase in The Warehouse and rubber gloves. We missed them by minutes.”
Two suspects were arrested but the large haul of drugs was not found until Detective Constable Nankivell spotted a suspicious campervan on the way home.
The campervan’s licence plate showed it was what police were looking for, so Detective Constable Nankivell called for back-up and pulled the vehicle over, conducting a search under the Search and Surveillance Act.
A total of 448kg of methamphetamine was found in the vehicle, packed into suitcases. Another 50kg was later found buried in the sand dunes on Ninety Mile Beach. The drugs are suspected to be worth nearly $500 million.
Several people were subsequently charged with importing a Class A drug.
Northland district commander Superintendent Tony Hill praised the officers for going “above and beyond”.
The seizure stopped the social harm that would have come, had the methamphetamine hit the streets, he said.
Detective Constable Thomas Nankivell said it was nice to be recognised with the awards. He thanked Sergeant Anderson for his leadership.