A major organised drug ring has been blown wide-open, potentially taking millions of dollars of methamphetamine of the streets, say Bay of Plenty Police.
A four-month operation has resulted in the arrests of 16 men and two women, netted thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine and a significant amount of pre-cursor drugs which could potentially have made millions of dollars worth of narcotics.
Detective Senior Sergeant Lindsay Pilbrow called operation a "sweet victory".
"These are sweet victories in an ongoing battle against organised criminals and gangs.
"Methamphetamine causes nothing but misery and our communities have had a guts-full."
Police said most of the operation was carried out in western Bay of Plenty involving local staff with some officers from Rotorua.
Waikato police also helped with the execution of three warrants in Hamilton, where a significant amount of precursor material was found.
Two clandestine or "clan labs" were put out of operation. One in Tauranga was shut down by police last week, and another in Katikati burnt the ground in a fire on Sunday.
It is alleged the occupants set fire to the lab as they saw police approach.
As well as a large amount of drugs, police also recovered firearms, ammunition, cash and a stolen motorbike throughout the operation.
Pilbrow said police would not stop carrying out these operations.
"Not only are we intent on disrupting the trade, we will take every opportunity to hit them where it hurts by having the proceeds of their criminal activity forfeited," he said.
Of those arrested, three men and one woman faced charges relating to cannabis, and the rest were arrested on charges relating to Class A drugs.
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