Students arrested in raids

Two university students face charges carrying life sentences after police and Customs raids netted thousands of dollars in cash and drugs.

Police and Customs executed search warrants as part of Operation Albany at two properties in the university area in Dunedin yesterday.

The raids followed drug seizures at New Zealand's border earlier this year, Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis said.

About $18,000 in cash was found at one address, as well as quantities of cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and prescription medicine packaged for sale on the street, he said.

''They were all made up in small amounts ready for sale.''

Police arrested the two 23-year-old students at one address and the pair were charged with offences relating to illicit drug importation.

Further charges, some linked to drug dealing, were being investigated, Det Snr Sgt Inglis said.

The two students will appear in the Dunedin District Court today.

Police believed the pair were linked to drug dealing among the student community and believed drugs imported by the pair had already hit the street.''

We would imagine that a quantity of drugs has reached the street at some stage,'' he said.

''We believe [the cash] to be ... linked to drug dealing.''

Customs investigations operations manager Roger Batten said Customs remained vigilant about capturing drugs at the border and would continue to work closely with police to ''prevent these harmful substance reaching our communities''.

''Students using the internet to import drugs should be warned that their actions are not anonymous and there are consequences which could affect their future careers and travel plans,'' he said.

Det Snr Sgt Inglis said those importing and dealing class A and B drugs were gambling with their lives and the lives of others.

''These types of drugs are illegal for a reason, and they can cause serious harm to those who end up using them,'' he said.

"We are disappointed that another group of students appear to be involved in the dark web and the importation of illegal drugs.

"It's another very sad occurrence. We have these very bright young people going on to the dark web believing they can be involved in this activity unaware of the devastation it will have on their futures.''

Eight police officers and one Customs staff member carried out the raids.

The raids followed a string of arrests this year of students linked to drug importation and dealing.

Det Snr Sgt Inglis said it was disappointing students were not getting the message that drug dealers would be caught and dealt with harshly.

Earlier this year, four men aged 18-20 admitted their parts in a drug ring found to have imported $167,000 worth of illegal drugs.

The group's head, student Daniel Patrick McKechnie, of Dunedin, was jailed for seven years for his offending after buying illegal drugs through the dark web.

Last year, Dunedin student Nicholas Peter Heatley was sentenced to four years' jail for bringing more than $70,000 worth of illegal drugs into the country in the same fashion and dealing to young people in the campus area.

''We would rather see them qualify and finish at university and not finish by appearing in front of the courts,'' Det Snr Sgt Inglis said.

However, he emphasised it was a problem not isolated to Dunedin.

''This is a national problem, not just an Otago University problem,'' he said.

''It's happening across the country at all universities. People think they can make easy money.''

Anyone with knowledge of illegal activities involving the importation and/or distribution of illegal substances was urged to contact their local police station.

Information can also be provided anonymously via the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

 

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