Thirty people are facing a total of 87 charges after police conducted search warrants across 14 properties this week.
Waikato Police yesterday terminated a major, district-wide operation targeting organised criminal groups and drug dealing.
Those arrested are facing charges including; serious drug offences relating to dealing methamphetamine and cannabis, firearms offences, and offences involving stolen property.
They have appeared over the last week in Hamilton District Court.
Detective Sergeant Kristine Clarke, head of the Waikato Organised Crime Team, says this operation established a very clear link between gangs and the distribution and sale of methamphetamine and cannabis.
“During these search warrants we visited properties with prominent gang regalia displayed, where police believe drugs were being sold from.”
Members from various gangs are among those arrested.
“During a search of one Hamilton property police seized 80 tinnies of cannabis.
The drugs were packaged in the same plastic bags used by the organised criminal group to provide sandwiches to school children.
“Also of particular concern was a property located next to a kindergarten where drugs were being dealt, gang regalia was displayed and an illegal shotgun was located.
“Police will allege that in many cases children were living in an environment where methamphetamine and cannabis was being sold openly from their homes.
“Police Child Protection Teams are working alongside Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki to ensure the ongoing safety of the children.”
Detective Sergeant Neville Ross, head of the Waikato’s Major Crime Team, expresses concern about the three illegal firearms recovered from the alleged drug dealers’ properties.
“No good can come from drug dealers and gang members being in unlawful possession of firearms.
“In many cases we have found they are used for protection and intimidation which puts innocent lives at risk, including children.”
Neville says a main aim of the operation is to help the Waikato community feel safe and that police are hopeful the operation will have a positive effect in reducing drug related harm in the community.
“The impact of any ongoing supply of methamphetamine on a community results in huge social harm, negative health implications and financial harm, particularly to drug users and their families.
“We want to help people get away from the cycle of drug addiction and we urge them to seek assistance from Police or the many social agencies available for help.”