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Peters warns of immigrant crime wave

Last updated 10:02 05/12/2013
NZ First leader Winston Peters.
Fairfax NZ
WINSTON PETERS: New Zealand is "awash with immigrant crime".

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A record multi-million dollar drug-bust shows New Zealand is "awash with immigrant crime", says NZ First leader Winston Peters.

Police yesterday netted enough materials to make $100 million of P after raids across Waikato and Auckland - the culmination of an 18-month investigation name Operation Ghost.

Working with the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ) police seized more than 330 kilograms of the methamphetamine precursor material ContacNT.

ContacNT is manufactured legally in China but is used in New Zealand to produce methamphetamine.

Peters said the haul showed Immigration New Zealand had "no idea they are bringing organised crime into the country".

He said it was "significant" that Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean language interpreters were needed in court for those arrested, and that all of the accused were permanent residents or New Zealand citizens.

"We have warned for many years that successive governments were blindly importing people without any idea of their criminal backgrounds and this case proves it," Peters said.

He questioned whether they would have met the criteria for residency, "because of the language issue".

Yesterday, the drug bust was hailed as a major blow to the methamphetamine market in New Zealand.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said it sent a serious message to criminals.

"The combined forces of law and order are watching them and are able to carry out very successful operations and stop them," she said.

Customs Minister Maurice Williamson was reluctant to say whether the haul was indicative of more ContacNT being brought into the country.

"We never know that, because we never know what we never know. So we just have to be eternally vigilant," he said.

"We watch the street price very carefully because that's a good indicator. If there's a whole lot of stuff flooding the market, the street price drops.

"If we're really throttling off the supply the street price goes up."

Two hundred and fifty officers searched residential and business addresses across Auckland and Waikato.

Twenty-four people were arrested and up to $20 million of assets was also seized including property, cars and cash.

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