A 44-year-old Wānaka man was arrested by police following a drug bust last Thursday that saw a worrying amount of illegal substances recovered from the property. The police obtained three search warrants to search properties in the ongoing investigation. At one address they seized in excess of 80 poppy plants that were used for extracting opium alongside LSD, cocaine and MDMA. An indoor cannabis grow with 20 plants and a quantity of dried cannabis head and plant material were also located on the property.
Police were unable to comment on whether the offender had any previous drug-related offences as well as why and for how long police had been investigating the properties due to “operational reasons.”
However when asked about whether the Wānaka public should be worried about a potential drug problem, a police spokesperson said “All areas should be concerned about drug use as there is commonly a link between drug use and other crimes. Wānaka is no different and drug dealers are driven by trying to make what they think is easy money.”
The spokesperson goes on to note that “as with Queenstown, Wānaka has a large tourist population travelling through the town and drug dealers are known to try and target young people in bars and other areas that they gather.” The 44-year-old man appeared in the Queenstown District Court on Monday on several charges including possession of methamphetamine.
This is not the first drugs bust in recent times. In October, a Lake Hāwea man was sentenced to nine months' home detention after police discovered a locked "grow room'' on his property which housed three rooms of 28 cannabis plants. In June, another Lake Hāwea property was searched to discover firearms, $3700 in cash and 56g of MDMA and 10 cannabis plants, altogether an estimated value of $17,000. Perhaps the most famous local drug bust comes from 2013, where a Wānaka painter was found to be involved in a $1 million cocaine distribution ring and imprisoned.
Police will continue to target the supply of drugs in Otago Lakes Central area to help protect communities from harm. Anyone with information about the sale and supply of illegal substances should contact their local Police by calling 105, or phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.