Rise in imports of drugs 'not linked to quakes'

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2012

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Canterbury's earthquakes did not cause more drugs to be brought into the region, Christchurch police say.

A report in the police's monthly Ten One newsletter suggested more drugs had been brought into Canterbury after the quakes as dealers sought to replace disrupted supply chains.

The comments came after a 16-month operation led to police arresting a man who was bringing drugs into Christchurch after the February 2011 quake.

"He was meeting a demand for these drugs which appeared to grow as a result of the earthquake," Constable Mark Bond, area intelligence supervisor at Auckland International Airport, said in the report.

However, Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer, of the Christchurch police drug squad, said he did not believe Christchurch had experienced a shortage of drugs after the quakes compared with what was available before.

"I'm not seeing a major shift in trends."

It was "well known" that many drugs, such as methamphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine, were sent to other parts of the country from Auckland.

"That's just a reality," Archer said. "I don't necessarily believe it's a reflection of the quake."

Many factors could influence a drug market, especially whether the drug could be made locally or not, he said.

A drug would be imported "if the cooks aren't here or the ingredients aren't here".

The 46-year-old man featured in the newsletter, Stephan James Malcolm, had been caught at Christchurch International Airport carrying $15,000 worth of methamphetamine and more than $1000 worth of cocaine, hidden inside a computer transformer and the cap of a can of shaving foam.

He was charged with handling stolen goods and possession with intent to supply cocaine and methamphetamine, and was jailed for 4 years in May.

Bond said the conviction stemmed from a tip-off received 16 months earlier by Crimestoppers, an anonymous crime information line.

The tip indicated an Auckland man was carrying drugs from Auckland to Christchurch, and although the initial information was "vague", staff from various units were able to develop the data into "valuable intelligence".

"The key factor in the investigation is that we were able to work so successfully with other units. Looking forward, we see Crimestoppers directly supporting the Prevention First strategy to produce more outstanding results," Bond said.

To report information to police anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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