Raid fails to net suspect but gun, drugs found

Stan Leishman.
Stan Leishman.
An armed offenders squad callout in the Catlins town of Owaka on Wednesday morning was unsuccessful in locating a suspect from an earlier Invercargill incident, acting Clutha-Taieri area response manager Senior Sergeant Stan Leishman said.

Snr Sgt Leishman was in charge of the operation, which put the sleepy South Otago tourist town into lockdown for about 90 minutes on Wednesday morning.

Armed officers were deployed to enter and search a house located diagonally opposite the Owaka Police Station about 11am, where they discovered three adults and one infant, a loaded rifle and a small amount of drugs and associated paraphernalia.

Methamphetamine and cannabis in quantities indicating ''personal use'' were seized in the raid, Snr Sgt Leishman said.

Oranga Tamariki had also been called to the property to remove a child into alternative care.

''Due to the unhygienic nature of the house, Oranga Tamariki were called in and made an assessment, resulting in the removal of an infant into care.

"Although the original person sought was not apprehended on this occasion, thanks to the search we've been able to deal with a situation involving an at-risk child, and remove a firearm and drugs from the community.

"On that basis alone, the operation was a success.''

Snr Sgt Leishman described the AOS deployment as ''textbook''.

''No firearms were discharged, and normal activity was restored to the community after a relatively short time,'' he said.

Snr Sgt Leishman said he was unable to comment on the arrest of a suspect in Invercargill on Wednesday afternoon and whether it was related to the Owaka operation.

Contrary to earlier reports, no-one was apprehended during the Owaka incident.

''The occupants of the house were secured during the operation, but no arrests were made.''

Snr Sgt Leishman urged members of the public to contact the police if they had any concerns about care of children or illegal drug use in their communities.

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