Waikato police are warning drug manufacturers that remoteness is no cover for drug-making after finding three methamphetamine labs in rural towns.
Police yesterday busted the meth labs and two indoor cannabis growing operations after searching 12 houses in Te Awamutu and nearby rural Otorohanga.
Six police search teams targetted people involved in the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine. Eight people are due to appear in court this week on a variety of charges relating to cannabis and the possession and manufacture of methamphetamine.
One person was allegedly a drug "shopper", who bought precursor substances for use in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Western Waikato area controller Inspector Graham Matthews said police were concerned at the growing trend of drug makers targetting rural towns or settlements. Two of the meth labs were found in residential areas in Te Awamutu and Otorohanga, while the third was found on a rural property in the settlement of Te Kawa, about half-way between Otorohanga and Te Awamutu. The cannabis operation was also found there.
"Remoteness does not mean drug makers will not be touched," Mr Matthews said. "Those making and selling drugs can expect to be arrested wherever they may be operating."
Mr Matthews said police relied heavily on smaller rural communities to help them in their fight against drugs like methamphetamine.
"People living in smaller communities need to be vigilant and be acutely aware that just because they live in a small town, it wonâ€™t happen here. We need people to tell us if they suspect their neighbours are dealing or making drugs."
Waikato police crime services manager Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Whitehead, who headed yesterdayâ€™s police operation, said the results indicated the widespread nature of methamphetamine offending throughout the country.
"This is not confined to the larger centres and it is not just a big city problem. The spread of drug manufacturing to rural areas is partly due to police putting pressure on in the larger cities."
Mr Whitehead said the presence of cannabis was consistent with police observations that cannabis offending continued in conjunction with methamphetamine use.
"Both dealers and users tend to offend with a number of drugs and many will use or attempt to make money from whatever is available to them."