Children caught up in raids

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 10/04/2014

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A Hamilton mother who lives next to one of a number of houses raided in a drug operation yesterday was appalled to hear small children screaming as police stormed the suburban property.

Police said the operation was the culmination of months of covert work and tipoffs targeting organised crime involved in the trade of illegal drugs and stolen property.

Nine properties were searched yesterday and 12 people were arrested in relation to a variety of methamphetamine, cannabis and organised crime related offences.

They appeared in the Hamilton District Court yesterday where all were remanded in custody overnight for bail applications today.

The concerned mother, who asked to remain anonymous, was shocked to see police searching a neighbour's house in Hamilton East.

"I can't believe the same woman who I would smile and wave at each morning as she was sending her little ones off to school would then turn around and walk straight back into a suspected drug house," she said.

"It makes me so angry and upset to think that those children were being put in danger. The whole street would always keep an eye out for them - they would be seen sitting outside on the front step by themselves and never seemed to have much love - but we never thought for one second something as serious as drugs and gangs was going on." She lives on a "quiet neighbourhood street" and never expected to peer outside in the morning and see a police dog and armed officers.

"I am so angry the occupants put their children in danger, and the other children in the street in danger, with what they were doing. "My heart broke for those children when I heard their screams and cries as their mum was led away by detectives wearing leather gloves. No child should ever have to witness that." Police echoed her concerns.

District crime manager, Detective Inspector Karl Thornton, said police were concerned that "very young" children were present at several of the houses.

The risks to their safety included exposure to chemicals, drugs and weapons, as well as the attitudes and lifestyles adopted by those associated with such offending.

Thornton said another matter concerning police was the high level of gang involvement and the practice of accepting stolen property as payment for drugs.

"Our enquiries have made it quite plain that rival gangs are more than willing to work closely together in the pursuit of cash and income at your expense.

"In essence the theft of your property is being used to fund offenders' drug habits and line the pockets of organised criminal groups such as gangs." "[Yesterday's] arrests should send a clear message that the police share the community's lack of acceptance of this offending and we urge anyone with information on such activity to contact police - your call will be treated in confidence."

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WARNING SIGNS

Signs of meth manufacturing/drug dealing can include:

Chemical odours

High traffic volumes

Windows blacked out or curtains always drawn

Occupants unfriendly, secretive, exhibiting paranoid or odd behaviour

Expensive security

Denial of access

Rubbish containing large amounts of discarded medication containers, bottles/plastic containers with labels removed or horticultural supplies

Increased electricity consumption

- Waikato Times

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