Marlborough community constable urges rural residents to keep an eye out for 'clan labs'

Blenheim community constable Russ Smith has told rural Marlborough residents to keep an eye out for meth labs. (File photo)
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

Blenheim community constable Russ Smith has told rural Marlborough residents to keep an eye out for meth labs. (File photo)

Making meth inside a hay stack is horrendously dangerous, but it shows the measures cooks are taking to stay hidden in rural Marlborough, a police officer says.

Community constable Russ Smith urged rural residents to stay vigilant at a Rural Advisory Group meeting held at the Marlborough District Council chambers on Friday.

Smith said, while most clandestine laboratories, or clan labs, were found in residential areas, police had come across a number of labs in rural parts of Marlborough.

"The object of the exercise is to stay hidden and not be discovered, so rather obviously rural places are places of choice sometimes," he said.

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As well as the hay stack, which had a removable bale concealing the cook site, police had also come across a buried shipping container with a disguised entranceway.

Smith said out-houses and sheds were also being used to manufacture meth - police had found a clan lab in a shed up the Wairau Valley in the middle of last year.

He told those gathered at the meeting to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, including lights being on all night, constantly running water and high amounts of activity.

Clan labs would not necessarily have large amounts of glassware, as most commercial-level meth cooks refined the product using a high pressure process, Smith said.

However, people would know if they walked into a lab: there would be a sharp chemical smell, an odour Smith said ranged from cat pee to nail remover.

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"But if you walk into something you think is a clan lab ... don't go up and sniff containers - it could be the last thing you do on this mortal coil," he said.

"These products are really, really dangerous. You shouldn't be in a room any longer than the point you realise it's a bad place."

Smith said most of the clan labs discovered by police in Marlborough had a gang connection, something he said was due to the lucrative nature of the operations.

It cost about $1 to $2 to make a point of meth, about a 10th of a gram, which could then be sold for anywhere between $100 to $150.

"It's all about the money, the gangs make a business out of it," he said.

"While they're not necessarily fronting all the activity in terms of the sale and manufacture of meth, they're certainly sitting in the background making sure everything goes smoothly."

Smith told the Rural Advisory Group meeting if they came across what they thought was a clan lab, they should call police immediately on 111.

 - The Marlborough Express

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