Dark net drug operation about avoiding 'downward spiral of drug addiction' - police

 84 addresses have been targeted and prosecutions are still possible.
84 addresses have been targeted and prosecutions are still possible. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Police have launched a new prevention-focused operation targeting those importing illicit drugs through the dark net.

During Operation Garden, carried out over the past two weeks, police visited 84 addresses across New Zealand with a focus on education and harm reduction.

"We work closely with NZ Customs and our partners in international law enforcement, and we have been successful at identifying individuals who have attempted to avoid detection by using the Dark Net [where networks are not indexed by search engines] to conduct their criminal activities," says Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers.

NZ Police said in a statement its National Organised Crime Group worked with Dutch law enforcement to determine the addresses targeted in the operation, and found most of those spoken to were importing drugs for personal use.

"We want to help people avoid getting trapped in a downward spiral of drug addiction, and we know that opportunities to reduce the impact of illicit drugs on our communities require multi-agency initiatives focused not only on enforcement, but on prevention, treatment and harm reduction," Mr Chambers said."

Formal Police warnings have been issued to some people spoken to as part of the operation and Mr chambers says prosecutions are a possible outcome if "further evidence" is uncovered as part of the police visits."

Mr Chambers said criminal activity conducted online, particularly through the dark net, is a high priority for police, with the Commissioner announcing an additional 77 officers focused on "high tech" and cybercrime in September.

"Our message to people using the Dark Net is simple: the Dark Net is not anonymous. And if you’re using the Dark Net to conduct criminal activity, you should think again."