Nine arrests as local police seize 'large quantity' of party drugs

by Kim Bowden - Dec 20, 2023

Police in one of the south's biggest summer party spots have taken a "large quantity" of drugs out of circulation in recent weeks.

Nine people have been arrested for drug dealing and possession, and drugs worth approximately $88,000 have been seized by police after searches of properties in Queenstown, Wānaka, Cromwell and Alexandra in recent weeks.

Detective Sergeant Regan Boucher of the Otago Lakes organised crime unit says 170 grams of cocaine and 40 grams of MDMA were among the drugs discovered.

Those arrested will be appearing before the courts on a variety of drug dealing charges, some of which include possession for supply of MDMA, ketamine, cocaine, and cannabis.

Sergeant Boucher says police have seen higher recreational drug use throughout the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago districts, consistent with the larger concentration of controlled substances such as MDMA and cocaine detected during wastewater sampling.

"Police will continue to target and hold offenders to account for the supply of controlled drugs in our community, as these drugs can and do cause harm," he says in a written statement early this afternoon.

"These types of drugs cross all social sectors of our community, including people of all ages, visitors to the area and residents."

He wants anyone thinking about using controlled substances to "think twice".

"MDMA, cocaine or non-prescribed ketamine can be misrepresented and purchasers may not know what they are buying.

"With the summer season upon us, police urge the public to be aware of your surroundings and be vigilant."

He says police recommend drug checking for those who still choose to take illicit substances to help minimise risk.

Licensed drug checking services regularly run free, legal, and confidential drug checking clinics across the country, and a calendar of upcoming drug checking clinics is available at https://thelevel.org.nz/drug-checking-clinics.

Further information from police ahead of the holiday season:

  • If you have any information relating to controlled drugs, feel unsafe or have concerns about dangerous, illegal or suspicious behaviour, call police on 111 or, for non-urgent concerns, call 105 or visit https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105 and report the incident online.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable contacting police directly, contact Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 and any information will be forwarded to police anonymously.

Read more: Pop-up drug checking ahead of Queenstown, Wānaka party season

Main image: Pixabay/Janno Nivergall

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