Source: New Zealand Police
Operation Ghost: Police arrest 22 people in Northland this week following methamphetamine investigation (+ footage and stand-up advisory)
Northland Police, with assistance from Tāmaki Makaurau Police and National Organised Crime group, have this week arrested 22 people as a result of Operation Ghost, following three days of search warrants across the district.
The operation, which has been running since November 2017, has been targeting those allegedly involved in the sale and supply of methamphetamine in Northland.
As part of the operation, Police executed dozens of search warrants over the past three days across Whangarei, Dargaville, Kawakawa, Moerewa, Kaikohe, Kaitaia and Awanui.
At this stage, 11 males and 11 females ranging in age from 18 to 57 have been arrested and will appear in court on a range of drug charges and other charges.
Several of those arrested are patched gang members or gang associates.
At this stage Police have also seized 71 grams of methamphetamine, worth an estimated potential street value of $35,500 and a quantity of cannabis from a number of addresses.
Other items seized include three firearms, a taser, ammunition, around $40,000 in cash and additional stolen property worth thousands of dollars.
Whangarei Area Commander, Inspector Justin Rogers, says this is an outstanding result which shows our commitment to disrupting the supply and distribution of illegal drugs in our community.
“We know the devastating harm that methamphetamine causes to users and these arrests will go a long way toward reducing the supply chain of methamphetamine in Northland.
“There is a significant methamphetamine issue in Northland, however it is not a problem which is isolated to this region – it is an issue across the country.
“These arrests will not stop here. We are dedicated in our ongoing efforts to identify and arrest those responsible for the manufacture and supply of illegal drugs and hold them to account.
“However, this is a community issue and not just an issue for Police. We will not be able to arrest ourselves out of this problem,” says Inspector Rogers.
Northland Police is committed to the Te Ara Oranga partnership with Northland DHB, launched last August, which has been effective in supporting and assisting those with addiction and ultimately reducing methamphetamine demand and harm in our community.
Inspector Rogers says at this stage, 14 people identified through this operation have been referred by our dedicated Meth Harm Reduction Team to the DHB for support and assistance with their addiction.
The impacts of this investigation will be ongoing, with more than a hundred people being identified as users as a result of this operation who be referred through the Te Ara Oranga programme.
“We have also received a large amount of positive feedback during the week from locals who are pleased to see not only drug arrests being made, but the positive approach by Police being done in Northland to educate the public around meth harm.
“We want to reassure the community that our focus is not only on arresting drug offenders but also to provide assistance and referrals to those who are addicted to methamphetamine and need help,” says Inspector Rogers.
A key benefit of Te Ara Oranga is the strengthening of the relationship between Police and Northland DHB.
“The partnership with Police has provided a good example of how we can both complement each other to improve pathways into treatment and co-ordinate activity to ensure that treatment services are both flexible and responsive with the shared goal of reducing harm caused by methamphetamine,” notes Ian McKenzie, General Manager, Mental Health & Addictions.
“In the six months from October 2017 to March 2018, 308 methamphetamine users have been referred to Northland DHB for treatment and 78 of these users were referred by Police.”
“In addition we have more than 230 people being supported by Pou Whānau Connectors in the community. Pou Whānau Connectors are a new non-clinical role established by Te Ara Oranga and have expertise in Tikanga and whānau engagement with strong community links.”
The referral pathway between the agencies ensures that anyone who would benefit from treatment is offered the opportunity, with the person being contacted within 48 hours of being referred.
“Eliminating methamphetamine from communities requires a whole of community approach, which is what Te Ara Oranga has been designed to achieve. Police, our communities and our treatment services working together is what will make the difference,” says Mr McKenzie.
If you have any information regarding illegal drug activity, please contact your nearest Police station or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
If you or someone you know needs help with drug addiction there are a number of services which you can contact to assist, including your local GP or the Drug and Alcohol Helpline on 0800 787 797.
Nick Baker/NZ Police
Advisory: There will be a joint media conference with Northland Police and Northland DHB at the Whangarei Police Station at 2pm. Media attending are asked to RSVP by text to Nick Baker on 021807462 and report to the station front counter by 1.45pm.
Footage from Operation Ghost, including drugs and items seized as a result of the operation, can be found on the Northland Police Facebook Page.