Four arrested in armed police raids
Four Ashburton residents have been bailed on drugs charges after a series of raids and searches by armed police yesterday.
Duty lawyers told Judge Emma Smith in Christchurch that police were not opposing release on bail but were seeking a series of conditions which the judge granted.
All four were remanded without plea to appear in the Ashburton District Court on August 18 on a total of 20 charges.
Various conditions included living at specific addresses, reporting to the police station, and not associating with other alleged offenders.
Before the court were Angela Lee Kim Weir, 24, and farmer Daniel Joseph Patrick Leahy, 23, who live at the same address in Lismore.
Angela Weir faces five charges of supplying the class A drug methamphetamine, five charges of selling cannabis, and possession of cannabis for supply.
Leahy is charged with supplying amphetamine, supplying methamphetamine, and possession of a bong for smoking cannabis.
Christopher Leon Weir, 23, of Hampstead, faces two charges of supplying methamphetamine, and one of selling cannabis.
Joshua Aaron Bettle, a 28-year-old labourer from Ashburton, faces charges of supplying methamphetamine and selling cannabis.
The charges allege offending on specific dates from late last year through to July, and some cover periods of several months.
COMMUNITY 'SICK' OF BAD REPUTATION
Alleged offenders received an unwelcome wake-up call when armed police raided the town in a large operation yesterday yesterday.
Thirteen people from eight properties, including the four who appeared at Christchurch District Court today, were arrested and charged with 44 drug-related charges.
The other eight were bailed to appear in the Ashburton District Court on a range of charges at a later date.
The arrests were the culmination of months of inquiries into drug dealing in the central Canterbury town.
Sixty-seven police officers from Christchurch, Timaru and Ashburton - including the armed offenders squad - took part in Operation Webster, which kicked off at 8am yesterday.
Mid-South Canterbury Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said drugs were tarnishing Ashburton's otherwise good reputation.
"The community is thoroughly sick of the reputation the town is getting. Most are really good people."
The raids, within the township and surrounding rural areas, were in response to an increase in crime in Ashburton in the last year.
Gaskin said police "knocked politely" on the doors.
"We knock harder on some than others. Everyone was given the opportunity to open the door," he said.
At the same time as search warrants were executed, police prevention teams visited nearby residents to give them crime prevention advice and ideas on how to notify police about criminal activity in their neighbourhoods.