Huge drug haul after 18 month investigation

Last updated 15:32 04/12/2013

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Police have netted enough materials to make $100 million of P in a huge operation across Waikato and Auckland this morning.

Police working with the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ) seized more than 330kg of the class B drug ContacNT in the biggest haul of its kind in New Zealand history.

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

Enough of the precursor material was seized to produce up to 100 kilograms of methamphetamine, police said.

Two hundred and fifty officers executed 40 search warrants at residential and business addresses across Auckland and Waikato, capping an 18 month investigation named Operation Ghost.

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

Today's raids followed the seizure of 267kg of ContacNT in Auckland as part of the investigation in October.  Four people were arrested.

An additional 64 kilograms of ContacNT was discovered this morning.

Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess expected the impact on the drug market to be significant.

"Police and OFCANZ have eliminated a criminal network responsible for importing and distributing Class0-B drugs which are used to produce methamphetamine," Burgess said.

"Operation Ghost sends a powerful message to the criminal community that we will use every legal avenue at our disposal to target organised crime in New Zealand."

Today's sting was the conclusion of an extensive multi-agency investigation.

"Operation Ghost is an example of national and international law enforcement agencies working together to target international organised crime groups," Burgess said.

"The investigation has seen excellent cooperation with other Government agencies, particularly the Ministry for Primary Industries, the New Zealand Customs Service, IRD, MBIE and the Department of Internal Affairs."

"We would also like to acknowledge the National Narcotics Control Commission from the Peoples Republic of China and the Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau for their help during Operation Ghost."

The 24 arrested this morning were all New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

In total 30 people have been arrested during Operation Ghost and further arrests were likely.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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