19 Sep 2018

Three arrests in police drug operation

1:43 pm on 19 September 2018

Three arrests have been made after police raids on properties in the Eastern Bay of Plenty as part of an operation targeting gang-related drug distribution.

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Police had been monitoring activities in Kawerau over the past six months. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Two men and a woman were arrested after searches of properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne, and Te Teko.

They were scheduled to appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon to face a range of charges, including possession for supply and supplying methamphetamine and cannabis, and firearms-related offending.

"We have been monitoring the situation in Kawerau over the past six months and today's arrests show we will continue targeting anyone who preys on this town through the distribution and supply of illicit drugs," Eastern Bay of Plenty area commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller said.

"We are also focused on working with Iwi and our partner agencies to offer advice and support services to victims of this group, and those who have been identified as methamphetamine users."

The raids were part of Operation Notus II, the second phase of a long-running probe into organised crime and distribution of methamphetamine and cannabis in EBOP.

Operation Notus, launched in October last year, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob was involved in the commercial distribution of methamphetamine and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were restrained in March 2018.

"This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply," Sergeant Richard Miller said.

He said police had then urged meth users to get treatment for addiction and aftewards there had been marked drop in crime.

"In the three months following the termination of Op Notus, Kawerau was a much safer place," he said.

"There was a 34 percent reduction in overall crime, compared to the three months prior, including; a 50 percent decrease in violent offending, a 41 percent decrease in dishonesty offending and a 34 percent decrease in antisocial and drug-related offending.

"This was a great result, but we know that there is still a lot of work to be done to make our community even safer.

"Police urges anyone affected by methamphetamine addiction to seek help through the Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797 or free text 1737 to speak with a trained counsellor."