Police have found an 11-year-old girl living in a “significant sized” methamphetamine lab in the western Bay of Plenty.
The lab was discovered when officers and the Armed Offender Squad carried out a search at a Te Puke house yesterday.
They arrested and charged a 35-year-old man with manufacturing and supplying methamphetamine.
A 55-year-old man was also charged with allowing his property to be used for drug offending.
Western Bay of Plenty detective senior sergeant Lindsay Pilbrow an 11-year-old girl found living in the lab could have been harmed.
The child has been referred to Child, Youth and Family, he said.
“Combined with the fact that this was illegal drugs activity, it is also very concerning that an operation like this has been established in a residential area, with a number of other people and children living nearby.
“Clandestine laboratories are dangerous operations, and all of these people could have been harmed by this activity.”
Figures revealed to the Bay of Plenty Times showed 90 children were found in 47 of 123 clandestine labs uncovered by police nationally from January 1 to November 30, 2010.
That compared with 55 children found at 29 of 135 sites in 2009.
The number of children found in other drug-dealing houses in 2010 was 390 – up from 251 the year before.
Mr Pilbrow said it was “not uncommon” for police to find children amongst the chemicals and drug equipment at methamphetamine labs.
“It’s extremely concerning. Potentially it’s damaging for their health and their safety… we take it seriously.”
A special team called in from Auckland to analyse the chemicals and equipment at the Te Puke lab was still at the scene, Mr Pilbrow said.