An apathy towards serious drug-dealing within the Wanaka
community is concerning and needs to change, a police officer
involved in last week's drug bust in the town says.
Detective Bryan Gillespie worked on Operation Viking, an
undercover police drugs investigation targeting the sale and
supply of LSD, MDMA (ecstasy) and cannabis in Wanaka, which
has resulted in nine arrests to date.
In Wanaka's Crimeline report this week, Det Gillespie said it
had been evident ''for some time'' there was a drug culture
''I have made this a focus for the last 18 months and have
collated and analysed numerous pieces of information. We were
fully supported by police management, who could see that this
was an important issue for the town and that something had to
Since the start of the investigation, police were aware of at
least four people in Wanaka who had become suicidal as a
result of drug taking, including one who required
hospitalisation, he said.
Police were committed to limiting the availability of the
drugs concerned, but it was up to the community to help
remove the market for drug dealers and ultimately push them
out of town, Det Gillespie said.
''The culture of drug taking and the nature of the drugs
involved causes police to have great concern, given the
flow-on effect of the normalisation of drug taking within the
community and potential exposure of local youth.
''The picture built by the inquiry team to date shows an
apathy to this offending within the Wanaka community ... the
challenge that faces Wanaka residents is to decide what sort
of town they want to live in and what sort of exposure to
drugs they want their teenage children to have.''
Det Gillespie said while many of those involved in the drug
dealing had been identified as being in Wanaka's ''party
scene'', they had also sold class A and B drugs at public
events and in or around local pubs.
''Some of the persons involved hold prestige in the community
and come from a wide array of backgrounds and occupations, so
don't stereotype your average recreational drug taker.''
There were many people ''on the fringes'' of the offending
who had been identified and would be spoken to in the weeks
to come, while others would face charges in due course.
Det Gillespie said the discreet operation had been a real
team effort and one which had not been easy in a small town.
Southern DHB Central Otago alcohol and drug clinician Julie
Scurr last week declined to provide any information to the
Otago Daily Times on the level or impact of
drug-taking in Wanaka, citing privacy issues.
Other drug and alcohol support workers said they were not
aware of a problem with class A and B drugs in Wanaka.
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