The meth and the money in Canterbury

About $100 million in assets, including cash, properties and cars, purchased with money made from...
About $100 million in assets, including cash, properties and cars, purchased with money made from meth sales have been seized by police since 2015. Photo: Getty Images
Nearly $100 million in cash and assets like property and vehicles made from methamphetamine dealing have been seized by police in Canterbury over the past five years.

A big demand for the highly addictive drug has seen vast amounts of money made from the illicit trade in meth, and gangs are at the forefront of it.

District Commander Superintendent John Price said the Tribesman, a North Island motorcycle gang now entrenched in Canterbury are the biggest suppliers of meth.

They bring it in from other parts of New Zealand and sell it locally, he said.

Details released to The Star under the Official Information Act show of the meth related assets seized by police in Canterbury $24,171,252 was cash.

Other assets seized from meth dealers in Canterbury include:

  • Residential properties - $58,258,755
  • Vehicles (including motorcycles) - $14,102,719.
  • Jewellery and other precious metals - $1,975,234
  • Equipment - $394,474
  • Furniture and art work - $145,832

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Price said it was a simple equation when it came to making money from meth.

“Once you’ve got addiction, you’ve got demand. They [gangs] are only interested in money and not the harm they are causing.

“We have a zero-tolerance behind gangs and their behaviours,” he said.

Price said the vehicles seized from gangs are usually expensive ones but he could not say for certain what makes are most common.

“They use expensive bikes [and] generally expensive vehicles.

“If you’re making big money from organised crime you’re not going to be driving around in old cars,” he said.   

Meth was causing an “awful, wicked cycle of abuse” for those who are vulnerable to addiction, said Price.

But the value of assets seized by police has been declining. Five years ago almost $26 million was seized compared to almost $15 million for the year ending June of this year.

Last year, 585 people were charged with meth-related offences in Christchurch.

In December Johnathan ‘Jack’ Seal, 27, and Michael Harrison-Cooper, 33, were sentenced to 12 years and four months in prison for their unsuccessful bid to get about 40kg of methamphetamine with an estimated value of between $13 million and $24 million through customs at Christchurch Airport.

Auckland freight worker Simote Vea, 38, was jailed for 15 years and seven months for his involvement.

In May, 3kg of meth worth more than $2 million and thousands of dollars in cash was recovered after a series of search warrants in Canterbury.

Tamal Edward McMeekan, 39, and his co-defendant, who has interim name suppression were charged with this.

The Institute of Environmental Science and Research has found that on average in Christchurch 87g of meth is consumed every day.

New Zealanders spend nearly $1.4 million cash on methamphetamine a day and consumption This costs the country an estimated $1 billion a year in social harm.

 

 

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