Police say the seizure of weapons at a rural Waikato property during a P-lab bust highlights the worrying link between drugs and illegal firearms.
Waikato detectives and members of the Waikato Armed Offenders Squad swooped on the rented Ohinewai property on Tuesday afternoon and found a methamphetamine laboratory in its ‘‘preliminary stages’’ and significant quantities of chemicals used to manufacture the drug. Police would not reveal what quantity of the drug was in the laboratory nor would they say what weapons or ammunition were found, confirming only that a silencer equipped firearm had been recovered.
Two people were arrested with one charged in relation to drug manufacturing and Detective Sergeant Rod Carpinter said more people were to be interviewed.
Mr Carpinter said the bust highlighted the risk to the public and police from links between the illicit drugs trade and illegal firearms. ‘‘More often than not we are finding it necessary to deploy armed police in support of such investigations as offenders involved in the drugs trade or dishonestly offending to pay for their drug habits take to arming themselves,’’ he said.
‘‘Waikato police are conscious of the effects drugs like methamphetamine have on our community from the need to fund drug use through the proceeds of burglary through to the risks associated to properties from explosion or chemical contamination and we hope results such as this will go some way to disrupting the drugs [supply].’’
Waikato police communications manager Andrew McAlley said that the recovery of firearms at clandestine P laboratories was becoming a ‘‘far more frequent occurrence’’. He said that because criminals needed to interact with organised criminal groups, such as gangs, to maintain their activities, this often resulted in to stand overs or intimidation, leading to some arming themselves for protection. ‘‘This proliferation of illegally held firearms presents a risk not only to our staff but to the public and even to the offenders themselves.’’
Mr McAlley said the arrests were not related to last month’s drug-related raids across the North Island in which police seized expensive cars and motorbikes, guns, drugs and more than $ 120,000 in cash.