Meth, guns, ammunition seized in raids

Police stand outside an Alexandra property where drugs, guns and ammunition linked to organised...
Police stand outside an Alexandra property where drugs, guns and ammunition linked to organised crime were seized on Thursday morning. A 37-year-old woman was arrested on drug related charges and will appear in court next week. PHOTO: RUBY SHAW
Methamphetamine, guns and ammunition have been seized in raids in Central Otago as the region’s police say they will vigorously go after those dealing drugs.

Police swooped on three properties — two in Alexandra and one in Cromwell — on Thursday morning to execute search warrants "in relation to the supply of methamphetamine by people linked to organised crime groups in Christchurch and Invercargill", Sergeant Derek Ealson said.

At the two Alexandra properties officers found methamphetamine, items used in the supply of methamphetamine, meth utensils, ammunition, and a firearm, he said.

A 37-year-old woman was arrested and will appear in Alexandra District Court on Thursday on methamphetamine and firearms charges.

Inquiries were continuing and further arrests were likely, Sgt Ealson said.

At the peak of Thursday’s operation six police cars were outside a Centennial Ave address and officers were seen examining a car parked on the front lawn.

Police also descended on an industrial address in Russell St.

It is the third police drug seizure to take place in Central Otago in as many months.

In April, police dealt a significant blow to a Central Otago-based syndicate accused of producing commercial-scale quantities of cannabis and bringing methamphetamine into Cromwell.

Three men were arrested in relation to the syndicate with charges later filed against a fourth man.

Last month a man was arrested after police discovered 20 cannabis plants and a stash of bud worth $50,000 while visiting a Galloway property on an unrelated matter.

Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, of Queenstown, told the Otago Daily Times drugs were an ongoing issue across the region, however the operations were not connected.

Police were especially focused on cracking down on people dealing drugs, he said.

"Especially methamphetamine — it’s the drug we are trying to eliminate the most because we know socially it does the most harm within our society.

"When we are aware of people dealing, we try and act pretty vigourously to try and prevent that happening."

Police were happy to support users and those addicted to drugs to get the help and support they needed where possible but there would be no tolerance for those creating social harm by dealing, Det Snr Sgt Inglis said.

Most of the illicit drugs in the area were sourced through various gangs and police were "well aware" of the danger this posed as they came in to the region to sell drugs, he said.

"[They] don’t really care who they deal to, what age group ...S

"We’re going to be chasing anyone who thinks they can deal methamphetamine in Otago Lakes Central because it’s the drug that causes the most harm within the community. It’s pretty well known the damage it does to families and society."

Central Otago District mayor Tim Cadogan commended police for their actions in keeping the drug off the street.

"For people to be aware that this drug is in our community and we don’t want it here — the police are the first line to stop it because of the scourge that it is," he said.