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Drug focused operation has serious impact on organised crime

Waikato Police say drug focused operation has serious impact on organised crime

Waikato Police say the search of several properties around Hamilton this morning was the culmination of months of work targeting organised crime involved in the trade of illegal drugs and stolen property.

District Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Karl Thornton, said this morning's searches were in response to information received from the public both through the independent Crimestoppers and via Police enquiries.

"Over the past few months members of the Waikato Organised Crime Group have used covert investigative techniques to identify and gather evidence against individuals and members of organisations responsible for the supply and distribution of methamphetamine in our District.

"Though utilising primarily Waikato Police staff this operation has been a whole of Police one with assistance provided from a number of staff from neighbouring Districts and is aimed at sending a clear message to offenders and the public that Police take the harm posed by illegal drugs very seriously."

Mr Thornton said nine properties were searched today and 12 people arrested in relation to a variety of methamphetamine, cannabis and organised crime related offences.

"The illegal trade in drugs, particularly methamphetamine and cannabis are recognised as a driver of other crime such as burglary and violence and are responsible for a lot of other harm.

"Police are particularly concerned that very young children were present at several of the homes we visited today and the risks these children are being exposed to in regards to the chemicals, drugs, weapons, attitudes and lifestyles adopted by those associated with such offending."

Mr Thornton said another matter concerning Police is the high level of gang involvement identified in this morning's operation and the practice of accepting stolen property as payment for drugs.

"Our enquiries have made it quite plain that rival gangs are more than willing to work closely together in the pursuit of cash and income at your expense.

"In essence the theft of your property is being used to fund offenders' drug habits and line the pockets of organised criminal groups such as gangs."

Mr Thornton said one of the best ways to protect your property is by marking it with synthetic DNA or by recording serial numbers or images of valuables on databases such as Operation SNAP (www.snap.org.nz).

"This makes your property less attractive to burglars and receivers who pay the thieves in drugs because it means Police can prove your item is stolen, making it harder for your property to be used as a commodity."

Mr Thornton urged the public to not buy property they believe could be stolen.

"Buying goods at prices that seem too good to be true only fuels the underground economy in stolen goods and who knows, you may be the next victim.

"Today's arrests should send a clear message that the Police share the community's lack of acceptance of this offending and we urge anyone with information on such activity to contact Police- your call will be treated in confidence."


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