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Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan, who has "seen firsthand ... the damage that it has created", said police in the lower South Island were now encountering sophisticated, dangerous criminals dealing the drug - underscored by the seizure of a sawn-off shotgun from a Clutha property at the end of August.
Yesterday, Mr Cadogan lauded the efforts of the Clutha District Youth Council, which is hosting four methamphetamine awareness talks next week to improve the district's understanding of the drug.
"I think the residents of the Clutha district - and the wider lower South Island - are becoming more aware of the sophistication of the criminal activity in the lower South Island," he said.
"There's more sophistication. It's dominated by the gangs. There's the associated violence, social health issues, and suicides.
"The police are constantly faced with having to deal with this whole new dynamic."
Gangs created a void three years ago, Mr Cadogan said, putting small-time cannabis dealers out of business, and had since filled the void with methamphetamine "which has hugely more money involved - far more money to be made".
"The winner every time is the gangs - but the speed that this has come through our community ... definitely the majority of the community is still blissfully unaware of what's happening right under their noses.
"And it's not until their family is directly affected that they suddenly realise - by then it's too late," Mr Cadogan said.
At the time of the "Operation Wick" August arrests, Clutha-Taieri area response manager Senior Sergeant Stanley Leishman said methamphetamine was causing "social carnage" and he appealed to the public to assist in reducing the drug's impact on communities.
"Police can't eliminate methamphetamine alone - it takes the wider community's assistance to help combat the negative impact of this drug," Snr Sgt Leishman said.
The Clutha youth council is hosting talks next week in Milton, Tapanui, Lawrence and Balclutha, bringing back Tauranga volunteer paramedic Pat Buckley, who presented his Amped4Life education programme in Balclutha in March.
The awareness campaign is an initiative of MAC (Methamphetamine Awareness Campaign) Clutha.