Thursday, 20 November 2003 - 5:17pm |
National News

International drugs syndicate smashed

2 min read

An international drugs syndicate importing LSD into New Zealand has been smashed in a joint Wellington Police and New Zealand Customs investigation.

Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Berry, head of the Wellington Police Organised Crime Unit, says today’s arrest of eight people on a range of serious drugs charges will significantly affect the supply of LSD in Wellington and elsewhere in New Zealand.

Those arrested include three Canadian nationals (one of whom is a woman) and an American. Four of the arrests were in Wellington, one in Auckland and three in Christchurch.

Three people appeared in the Christchurch District Court late this afternoon. The Auckland based arrest will appear in the Manukau District Court tomorrow morning and the Wellington arrests in the Wellington District Court at 9.30am tomorrow.

Charges laid include:

• Importing LSD
• Conspiracy to import LSD
• Supplying LSD
• Supplying cocaine
• Supplying methamphetamine
• Supplying ecstasy
• Supplying cannabis oil and hash
• Cultivating cannabis
• Producing cannabis oil and hash
• Money laundering.

The arrests stem from an electronics operation which has run for the last 150 days. "It’s the longest we’ve run and one of the most lengthy in the country," Detective Senior Sergeant Berry says.

Police and Customs also called on support from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and American Drug Enforcement Agency officers in Canberra and Los Angeles as part of their international attack on drugs and organised criminal activity.

They’ve also had support from the Auckland and Christchurch drug squads and the Customs Drug Investigation Units.

"Earlier this week we seized several packages containing 6000 tabs of LSD that was destined for New Zealand," Detective Senior Sergeant Berry says.

"With the help of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Vancouver and Canadian Customs we monitored the controlled delivery of the drugs to New Zealand."

He says police believe the drugs were destined for the rave dance music festival scene, especially those scheduled for the New Year holiday season. Two of those arrested are directors of New Zealand companies actively involved in the management of a music festival at New Year. Police will be attempting to contact companies associated with these festivals to ensure they are aware of the circumstances of these arrests.

Search warrants were executed on several addresses in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch this morning. Items seized included LSD, small quantities of Ecstasy powder and a meth kit and chemicals which will be examined by ESR and the Christchurch drug squad tomorrow.

Detective Senior Sergeant Berry says inquiries are continuing but he doesn’t anticipate further arrests.

Detective Inspector Harry Quinn, Wellington District Crime Manager, praised the meticulous and patient approach adopted by the Wellington Organised Crime Unit and the New Zealand Customs Service throughout this near six month investigation.

"Staff have often worked long and tedious hours, often without significant breaks away from their office in order to ensure this syndicate was smashed once and for all," he says.

"The community should be thankful for the dedication of this joint Police and Customs team."


Media contact:

Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Berry
Tel: 04 496 3402