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Searches net $1m of P, cash

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 15:50 12/03/2014

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Police say they are not ruling out a link between an alleged P-lab at an upmarket Wellington apartment and a similar bust last year as they net yet another million-dollar drugs haul.

Police seized more than $1 million worth of drugs and cash in a series of searches linked the Chews Lane apartments P-Lab bust last Friday, now dubbed Operation Rubber.

Searches of central Wellington addresses and four vehicles netted a haul of crystal methamphetamine with a street value of more than $1m and $35,000 in cash, police said.

The haul was displayed today at Wellington Police Station - about 1.12 kilograms of "P" in sealed bags and in a spice jar as well as cash, smart phones, and SkyCity casino chips that were also recovered.

Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson said the drug that would have caused a lot of misery was now off the street.

"This is a very sophisticated operation and we really think we've made a significant dent," he said.

Police had executed search warrants at three central-Wellington addresses - including other apartments outside of Chews Lane - as well as cars, to recover the drugs and other items allegedly linked to the crimes, Thomson said.

That included cash counting machines, he added.

The three searches resulted in fresh charges for one of the four people before the courts as a result of the bust.

The find also follows a $2m methamphetamine seizure in October in an operation that uncovered drugs concealed in light panels, along with cash and cars linked to a lower North Island drug ring.

Police were investigating the possibility the groups allegedly involved in both crimes were linked, and were keeping an "open mind" about the potential of more people being involved, Thomson said today.

"These arrests are another blow to the methamphetamine supply chain in Wellington," Thomson said.

Last week's high-profile operation sparked alengthy hazard emergency only metres from Wellington's central police station. Police on a 5am drug raid were confronted with the upscale apartment's occupants allegedly cooking P on their stove.

The emergency sent the occupants of other apartments on to the street in their dressing gowns. Veteran broadcaster Keith Quinn was among surprised apartment-dwellers who found himself blocked from entering his apartment for a day amid contamination fears, after his neighbours had allegedly carried out their drugs activities next door.

Police suspected media reports of the alleged offenders' names led people who knew them to come forward with information.

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"The public continues to be our eyes and ear and this discovery shows that it can happen anywhere," Thomson said today.

One of the three men and a woman charged in relation to the bust has been charged with additional methamphetamine-related offences.

Two appeared at Wellington District Court today.

Puthy Chea, 29, faced a fresh methamphetamine-related charge and bail was denied this afternoon.

The other two will appear in court later this month. 

- The Dominion Post

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