With criminal charges proceeding and a Nelson man with gang connections and alleged involvement in methamphetamine production sought for questioning, it is clear the police focus on gangs and drugs is warranted.
Their successes to date are welcome. That Nelson people are implicated in yet another nationwide ring, from which more than $12 million in drugs, cash, assets and other property have been seized by police, is also very concerning.
This country's greatest drug problem, in terms of overall harm done and cost to society, might be associated with a legal product which the Government seems powerless or unwilling to hit hard - alcohol. However, as numerous cases involving violence and desperate addiction have shown, the "meth" derivatives are high-profit, huge-harm, particularly nasty members of the illegal drugs fraternity.
Clearly, there has been unprecedented and worrying co-operation among some criminal gangs to source the raw materials and produce and market the drugs. The community should applaud and actively support any police initiative and success against this insidious and damaging drug.
Around the country meth "cooks" have trashed properties that often belonged to innocent third parties.
Far worse is the damage that "P" and the like have done to their victims. Given the tragic cases that have been highlighted over the years, it is alarming that so many people continue to play Russian roulette with this drug.
However, the pushers seem to have a ready supply of people ready to take the risk regardless: whether impressionable, bored or simply so disillusioned with life that even this extreme form of escapism seems attractive.
Nelson might be a - comparatively - safe region, but there have been plenty of warnings in recent years that we also have a hard drugs subculture that jars with the more common sleepy hollow, retirement village, family haven image we cultivate.
Part of the police approach has been to do what they can to discourage any of the criminal gangs from settling here. Basic civil rights can make this difficult to achieve, but whatever the police can do to make life uncomfortable for, and ultimately nab, those associated with the meth trade deserves full support.
Reports of gangs joining forces in order to support their "whanau", oppose violence and outlaw meth should be treated with cynicism. It seems far more likely that the main reason established gangs would co-operate would be in order to share resources for criminal intent.
Meth is not a police problem but a community one. Those who peddle it deserve no form of loyalty, protection or support whatsoever.
There are various ways they can, and should, be dobbed in, such as via the anonymous Crimestoppers phoneline. Anyone with information should not hesitate to make the call.
- The Nelson Mail