The capital's drugs market has been dealt a ''significant'' hit thanks to a bust that netted about $2 million worth of methamphetamine concealed in lighting panels, Wellington police say.
Drugs, cars and cash worth more than $2 million were seized during yesterday's police raids in Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Horowhenua, which targeted the operations of a "sophisticated" criminal network.
Police seized more than two kilograms of the Class A drug methamphetamine, as well as $25,000 in cash, and BMW and Mercedes cars that had been used in connection with the criminal activity.
Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson, Wellington District Crime Manager, said the joint police and New Zealand customs investigation indicated the importation had been intended for the wider Wellington drug market. The seizure of two kilograms of the drug would make it more difficult for users to come by, Mr Thomson said.
''It's a significant value and it will certainly make it significantly harder to source, that's pretty great. They are now going to have to look for other supplies.''
Five people, including two from Manakau, two from the Hutt Valley and one person from Wellington, were arrested in the sting.
The drugs, said to be of high purity, had been concealed in LED lighting panels imported from Hong Kong and were intercepted by Customs officials at the border following intelligence obtained earlier, police said.
During yesterday's raids, which involved more than 40 police and customs officers, four men aged between 36 and 52 years and a woman, aged 39, were arrested, and they appeared in Wellington's District Court today.
Mr Thomson said the group was a ''sophisticated syndicate'' that had been investigated over an extended period.
The current New Zealand street value of methamphetamine is about $1000 a gram, or $100 for 100mg, although its cost to families was far greater, Mr Thomson said.
''Its effects carry across society and we are coming across children in drug houses - they are definitely being deprived some of the necessities of living... $1000 a gram is $1000 you're not spending on your livelihood.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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