Police are concerned gangs are bringing a growing amount of methamphetamine into the Otago Lakes area in response to demand.
They are also noticing a growing gang presence, particularly in Queenstown, and worry increased use of the drug will lead to more violence and family harm issues.
Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis said the supply of the drug, also known as meth or P, had been ”escalating” in the region this year.
”It’s a major concern for us because we know it’s driven by gangs and organised crime groups.”
Gang members were visiting Queenstown more often, probably to spend the proceeds.
”It pays for their holidays, and visits to casinos and places like that.”
Three gangs were most visible: the King Cobras, who were ”strong” in Dunedin and Christchurch; the Mongrel Mob, which had growing numbers in Southland, and the Head Hunters, Det Snr Sgt Inglis said.
Two men arrested in relation to a serious assault in the resort a few weeks ago also had Head Hunters links.
A major meth bust in the resort on Monday was the result of ”building up a picture of what was happening in the area” and acting on information received.
More than $200,000 worth of methamphetamine and more than $30,000 in cash was recovered in the raid in urban Queenstown.
A 36-year-old man is in custody, charged with possession of methamphetamine for supply, and a a 33-year-old man is facing drugs charges after police executed two warrants in Cromwell the same day.
The two men are due to appear in court later this month.
Those operations follow a recent arrest in Alexandra where meth was also found.
The Queenstown and Cromwell raids, which involved about 20 officers and a Department of Corrections detector dog, had taken a substantial amount of meth off the streets, he said.
”But unfortunately, it just shows a growing problem for the area that everyone needs to be aware of … and indicates there’s a demand.
”We’re certainly aware of a rise in Queenstown, Cromwell, Alex and other areas.”
Police did not want to see gangs buying property in the region, and wanted to hear from anyone with information on property purchases with gang links.
”I actively encourage people to contact police to let us know about people involved in the supply of drugs, or accumulating wealth and assets with no apparent legitimate means.”
- OTAGO DAILY TIMES