Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Checkpoint arrests for drug possession

Police have arrested three men near checkpoints at Auckland’s COVID-19 borders who were allegedly found to be in possession of drugs, including methamphetamine and cannabis.

In a statement, Police said that two men aged 36 and 52 were stopped in their vehicle at Auckland’s southern checkpoint at Mercer travelling south yesterday.

“While they both produced travel exemption notices, officers at the checkpoint noticed the smell of cannabis coming from their vehicle and they were questioned further,” NZ Police said.

“It was then established they were not travelling for essential purposes and both were found to be in possession of over 2kgs of cannabis.”

The men were charged with Possession for Supply and Failing to Comply with the COVID-19 order and are due to appear in the Manukau District Court today.

A third man was arrested at a checkpoint on State Highway 1 north of Auckland, who was allegedly found to be in possession of a quantity of methamphetamine.

The 29-year-old was found running along train tracks trying to evade the checkpoint separating the Auckland and Northland regions, Police said.

He was issued with an infringement for breaching the Level 4 alert restrictions and will appear in court on a drug charge next month.

“These incidents demonstrate not only a lack of compliance for the Alert Level 4  restrictions, but also a complete disregard for the law,” Police said.

Meanwhile, officers are continuing to make enquiries after a 26-year-old woman and 35-year-old man travelled from Auckland to Wanaka last week.

“The couple reportedly crossed the Alert Level 4 boundary after providing an exemption on Thursday 9 September, drove to Hamilton Airport and boarded a commercial flight where they travelled to Queenstown via Wellington,” Police said.

Once there, the couple rented a vehicle and drove to Wanaka.

Police were notified of the incident via the COVID-19 compliance online reporting tool and located the pair in Wanaka on Saturday afternoon.

After being spoken to by Police the couple indicated they would return to their usual place of residence. Police are now considering charges under the COVID 19 Public Health Response Act 2020.

“What is most frustrating for Police is that these incidents detract from the overall high level of compliance shown to date by the public,” Police said.

As of midnight yesterday, a total of 87,152 vehicles have now been stopped at the 10 checkpoints on Auckland’s northern and southern boundaries since 31 August.

More than 71,000 vehicles have been stopped at the five southern checkpoints. Of these, 841 were turned away for non-essential travel, including 137 yesterday, Police said.

At the five northern checkpoints, which have been in place since Northland dropped to Alert Level 3 at 11:59pm on 2 September, 16,071 vehicles have been stopped. Of those, 263 vehicles were turned away for non-essential travel, including 27 yesterday.

Since Alert Level 4 came into place, in Tāmaki Makaurau, 71 people have been charged with a total of 75 offences as at 5pm yesterday. In the same time period, 165 people were formally warned for a range of offences.

To date, Police have received a total of 7,867 105-online breach notifications relating to businesses, mass gatherings or people in Tāmaki Makaurau.

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