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21 arrests in Wellington Police/Customs Operation

21 arrests, $20,000 of methamphetamine seized and $300k house restrained

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Over the past seven days, Wellington District Police and the New Zealand Customs Service have deployed more than 60 staff in a prevention-focussed operation targeting organised crime and drugs. Detectives, dog handlers, public safety officers and members of Police specialised units were deployed in Wellington, Porirua, Tawa, the Kapiti Coast and the Hutt Valley.

The intelligence-led operation code named Operation Python and was targeted at disrupting criminal activity in the community and was supported by New Zealand Customs around a number of drug importations involving the internet.

Twenty-nine search warrants were executed which has lead to the arrest of 21 people aged between 21 and 52 years. As a result of the evidence located they will be appearing before the courts on charges that including serious drug dealing, receiving stolen property and possession of firearms.

The drugs seized included methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, GBL, MDMA and cannabis. At a Wellington address Police located a significant haul of stolen property, $20,000 worth of methamphetamine and a large number of swords. A house in Tawa valued at more than $300,000 has also been restrained by the Central Asset Recovery Unit.

Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson says “This has been a whole-of-Police approach using all our staff’s expertise to have the maximum impact on those involved in illicit drug trafficking, trading weapons and other related crime.”

“We are very concerned at the joint seizures of drugs and firearms which have the very real potential to lead to tragedy. At one address we found a cache of firearms that presents a real risk to Police staff and the community. We certainly take a zero tolerance approach to this offending.”

“Police will act with urgency to identify those involved and seize the opportunity to reduce the risk and hold those responsible to account.”

During the course of the investigation Police worked closely with Customs and identified that there were people importing drugs through the internet. As a result of our ongoing joint work in this area, six arrests relating to the importation of methamphetamine, cocaine, and amphetamines were made during the Operation.

Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson added “Our message to those involved in using the internet for this purpose is that Customs and Police are actively investigating this method and we will continue to take action where appropriate. People may think it is somehow anonymous but we can assure you that this technique is being actively monitored.”

“Over the past few days we have seen a number of people who would not fit the usual profile of a drug importer get themselves caught up in serious offending. This has had a devastating impact on their families.”

Operation Python is part of the Wellington Districts ongoing commitment to preventing the harm caused by drugs and the danger that weapons present to community safety in the wrong hands. Over the past seven years close to 600 arrests have been made, dozens of firearms and weapons have been taken off the streets and millions of dollars of assets restrained and drugs seized.


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