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Criminologist plays down police sting on gang drug activity

UC criminologist plays down police sting on gang drug activity

September 4, 2013

University of Canterbury (UC) criminologist Greg Newbold is playing down the police sting on gang drug activity around New Zealand.

Seven patched Mongrel Mob members and 15 other people were arrested yesterday after an eight-month police operation targeting gang drug activity.

Police executed 20 search warrants on Mongrel Mob members in Blenheim, Picton, Nelson, Hokitika, Christchurch, Lower Hutt, Auckland, Havelock North and Palmerston North. The operation focused primarily on alleged serious drug offending by Mongrel Mob members across Marlborough.

A drug laboratory was located in Auckland and cannabis grow-rooms were found in Hokitika and Wakamarina in Marlborough. Quantities of cash, about a kilogram of dried cannabis and 24 plants, more than nine grams of methamphetamine, a firearm, stolen computers and drug utensils were also recovered.

A total of 250 charges have been laid, including possession of class A and C drugs for supply, conspiring to supply or deal methamphetamine, conspiring to supply or deal class C and B drugs, offering to supply methamphetamine, offering to supply class B and C drugs, possession of class B and C drugs, theft, and burglary. Police say further charges and arrests were likely.

Professor Newbold says the operation looks to have been the result of a lengthy and protracted inquiry into a series of drug operations, at least some of which apparently involved gang members.

``But it would be wrong, at this stage, to overstate the gang component in the case. Initial reports suggest that of the 22 people arrested, 15 were not gang members.

``The amount of drugs recovered – a kilogram of cannabis, 24 plants and nine grams of methamphetamine – is not large either. In fact, for such a large operation, the amount of drugs recovered is quite small. To call this a major victory against gang-related drug-dealing, therefore, is unjustified hyperbole,’’ Professor Newbold says.


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