Ten people arrested after large amounts of methamphetamine found in 'Virgin Mary' picture

  • 09/06/2022
Methamphetamine found in picture of Virgin Mary
Methamphetamine found in picture of Virgin Mary Photo credit: NZ Police

Ten people have been arrested after large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and cash were found following search warrants in Waikato and Wellington on Wednesday.

"Police located and seized 435 grams of methamphetamine, approximately $455,000 in cash, and clan lab-related items following search warrants executed in the Waikato and Wellington yesterday," police said in a statement.

Some of the methamphetamine seized was concealed in a picture of the Virgin Mary.

The arrests were made after police and Customs conducted a joint operation.

"The 11 warrants at residential properties in Wellington, Hutt Valley and Hamilton were part of Operation Bali, an operation targeting the importation, sale and supply of cocaine and methamphetamine, which began after a series of seizures at the border by Customs Officers," said National Organised Crime Group director Detective Superintendent Greg Williams and New Zealand Customs group manager of intelligence, investigations and enforcement, Dana McDonald, in a statement.

Seven of the people arrested were men and the remaining three were women, all aged between 24 and 57 years old.

The people arrested appeared in the Wellington District Court on Thursday for numerous charges including, importing Class A controlled drugs, possession for supply of Class A controlled drugs and supplying Class A drugs.

"Customs and Police are constantly looking to disrupt how these groups operate and we will continue to target these groups and the individuals that align themselves with them," Supt Williams said.

Williams also said carrying out this operation helps dismantle organised crime across the transnational border to prevent harm in communities.

Methamphetamine found in a steel container
Methamphetamine found in a steel container Photo credit: NZ Police

"This termination demonstrates the importance of our transnational partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the globe in our common ongoing efforts to combat transnational organised crime and drug trafficking activity."

McDonald said the operation started after a series of linked seizures at the border.

"By combining our intelligence with Police, we were able to uncover a wider ring of opportunist drug smugglers and dismantle their attempts to exploit our communities for a profit."

Police encourage anyone with concerns or information about suspected drug dealing in their community to contact 105, or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.