Po­lice go be­yond duty for big bust

The Northland Age - - Local Life / Opinion - By Denise Piper

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.

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