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Police are confident they have shut down a major source of supply of methamphetamine into Southland after the arrest of two men they allege are "linchpins" in the supply and distribution of the drug into the region.
A four-month operation, titled "Operation Queen", involving six police, culminated in the arrest yesterday of a 46-year-old Hamilton man, formerly of Invercargill, and a 43-year-old Auckland man.
Both face methamphetamine supply charges. One appeared in court yesterday and the other will appear in court today.
Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis, of the Dunedin-based Southern district organised crime squad, said cannabis and methamphetamine, equipment used in the manufacture of methamphetamine, and $4000 in cash were seized during a search of Hamilton and Auckland properties.
"Most of the methamphetamine in Southland is brought in from Auckland and this operation has targeted the source of the supply," he said.
Police allege the two men's activities have resulted in methamphetamine with a street value of between $150,000 and $200,000 being sold into Southland. The volume was "substantial" and information should be available today about the total amount, he said.
This was the third police operation within a year targeting drug supply and distribution.
Operation Rocky resulted in the arrest of three South Otago men, and Operation Moses focused on Queenstown, Invercargill, Dunedin and Auckland. During Operation Moses, police seized class A drugs worth an estimated $100,000.
Det Snr Sgt Inglis said while the most recent operation shut down the Auckland-based source, "people will be quick to try and pick up the business and fill the gap".
"And we'll continue to target anyone who tries to bring methamphetamine into this area.
"Cannabis and alcohol remain the biggest drugs found in the southern area but methamphetamine causes a lot of harm and is linked to serious crime and violence. It certainly destroys lives, so we'll prevent it getting to the streets where we can."
Many members of the public "don't like the drug" and some people had provided information through the Crimestoppers police phone line, which helped police investigations, he said.
Supplying methamphetamine was seen by people involved as a "lucrative" operation, but they had no concern for the level of harm wrought on Southern communities, he said.