Queenstown Police say they have busted one of the Southern district’s largest online illicit drug dealing operations, with the arrest of 12 people – ranging in age from 19 to 42 – in raids this week.
Over the course of two days, nine search warrants were executed in the Queenstown, Wānaka and Roxburgh areas as officers swooped on members of the alleged online drug ring.
Detective Senior Sergeant Malcolm Inglis says Police were made aware of the online drug dealing taking place earlier this year.
The tip-off prompted a four-month-long investigation into the illegal network, as Police began targeting certain individuals.
Investigations found the alleged offenders used social media platforms like Facebook to sell the illegal substances.
Three of the 10 arrested are foreign nationals from France and Chile. Police have since seized their passports, and they now face deportation.
One patched Mongrel Mob gang member was also arrested.
Queenstown Police also recovered quantities of MDMA, cocaine, cannabis and LSD at the addresses, along with approximately $10,000 thousand in cash.
At one property, officers also discovered cannabis plants being grown under the house.
“Police are aware that for the most part, these drugs have been sourced from the dark web and imported into New Zealand. The offenders bringing them into the country have been motivated by money,” said Det Snr Sgt Inglis.
“These drugs have had a devastating effect on our communities. They have posed a huge threat to public safety, and Police are aware of recent medical events as a result of the consumption of these drugs in the Queenstown bar scene.
“Police have a zero tolerance approach to any activity, substance or person that threatens public safety. Unfortunately, Queenstown has the highest rate of consumption of MDMA in the country. It is hoped this week’s successful arrests will help in lowering that statistic.
“The apprehension of these 12 individuals this week represents excellent policing to protect the public. Police will continue to target more people like these,” he said.
Anyone who has concerns about criminal activity in their community can contact Police by calling 111 if it is happening now, and 105 if it has already happened.
Information can also be reported to your local police station or to Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.