Cash totaling about $310,000 has been unearthed northwest of Napier in a drugs operation police believe has cracked a major methamphetamine ring in Hawke’s Bay.
Police found the cash buried in the ground near a small farm alongside the Napier-Taupo highway last week.
Methamphetamine estimated to be worth about $125,000 and two pistols were also seized, and police have used the Proceeds of Crimes Act to restrain the farm. A Ford Mustang car and a quadbike have been seized.
A 53-year-old man, from the Te Haroto area, has appeared in court charged with supplying methamphetamine.
A judge has remanded him in custody with interim name suppression and without plea to appear in court again on November 13.
A two-and-a-half month inquiry had focused on a man who allegedly supplied methamphetamine to various dealers around Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and other parts of the country, said police spokesman Detective Inspector Mike Foster.
About 25 police staff were involved in the searches, including the Hawkes Bay Armed Offenders Squad and a Specialist Search Group.
“This was a difficult operation, not least because of the rural location of the property,” Mr Foster said.
“We believe the arrest will make a significant dent in the supply of methamphetamine not just in the Eastern District, but to other parts of the country.”
Methamphetamine is still regarded by police as a major driver of crime, particularly burglaries, and police were constantly dealing with offending that had its origins in drugs, Mr Foster added.
“It’s well-known that a lot of burglaries and dishonesty crimes are linked to the offender’s need to get drugs, often to support a habit.
“Methamphetamine is a major player in the criminal community and we are determined to bring those responsible to justice.”
Napier community advocate Denis O’Reilly, who has headed community searches for answers to the methamphetamine problem, said a “spike” in methamphetamine availability in Hawke’s Bay had been noticed.
“Something’s going on,” he said.
The finding of drugs, cash and weapons on farm properties, while not always incriminating the farmers, showed “what a horrible drug it is,” he added.