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Operation Sweden disrupts meth supply

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Update: 5:30PM WAIRARAPA, Wellington: ELEVEN people, including teenagers and some senior citizens, have been arrested by New Zealand Police and between them, face some 100 charges including Class A drug dealing offences.

This came about following the termination of Operation Sweden in Wairarapa today, which Police said would cause a significant dent in the supply of methamphetamine across the region. 

More than 50 Wellington District Police staff executed 10 search warrants at Wairarapa addresses this morning directly targeting the ongoing supply of the Class A drug methamphetamine.

New Zealand Police said those arrested were closely associated with each other.

Police said that between them, those arrested were facing 100 charges including Class A drug dealing offences, other drug charges, money laundering and participating in an organised criminal group.

Those arrested will appear in both Wellington and Masterton courts this afternoon and tomorrow morning.

"Today's arrests are the result of a medium-term drug operation specifically targeting a tight-knit group in Masterton who Police allege have been supplying methamphetamine to a large number of Wairarapa people, including young persons," says acting Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Scott Miller.

The operation named Operation Sweden was a collaboration between the Wairarapa Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) and the Wellington Organised Crime Group. 

As part of the operation, a significant number of assets have also been restrained including real estate, vehicles, motorcycles, and cash.

"In addition to putting these people before the courts, we are committed to targeting and restraining property and assets derived from crime. Those involved in distributing drugs to the community must understand that not only do they risk imprisonment, but they also risk the forfeiture of their property," Inspector Miller said.

"One of the more alarming features of this type of operation is the inter-generational offending that is uncovered.

"There is a long-term impact on the younger generations, who are facing serious criminal charges that will affect their future and their own families' future.

"The impact of any ongoing supply of methamphetamine on a community results in huge social harm, negative health implications and financial harm, particularly to drug users and their families, and we don't want to see that in the Wairarapa community," said Inspector Miller.  

"Affected communities can also find increased levels of associated crime such as burglary, theft and vehicle crime as drug users try to fund their drug habit.

"It is not uncommon for drug dealers to also receive stolen property as payment for drugs.

"Often, when methamphetamine dealers are removed from a community, it gives users of drugs some time and space to reflect on the impact that drug has on their lives, health and the disruptive effect on their families with the impact spreading over the wider family dynamic."

Inspector Miller said Police would be speaking to a large number of people who had been identified from the investigation, including those who would not be facing charges but may be trapped within the drug-using lifestyle.

Police and their community partners who work together to achieve collective impact will be offering advice, support and rehabilitation options for people in the community who want information or help for themselves, family and friends who have become entangled in this cycle of drug use.

"Police want to help people get away from this downward cycle of drug addiction and they should not be afraid to approach Police or the many social agencies for help.

"A major part of the operation is not about enforcement but helping the Wairarapa community to feel safe.

"It is an opportunity to look after our people and not have them preyed upon by a criminal element who often are making large profits from others addiction and suffering."

Police are encouraging families, friends and community members to take that first step to look out for the youth and vulnerable in the community and do something about what they see that could change someone's life positively. 

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