The fourth Indicators and Progress report for the Government’s Tackling Methamphetamine Action Plan shows government agencies’ work is continuing to contain the growth of methamphetamine (‘P’) supply networks, Prime Minister John Key announced Tuesday.
“This initiative has been in place for two-and-a-half years, and we can see that efforts to crack down on those who are importing, manufacturing and selling P and its precursors are working,” says Mr Key.
“Six months ago, there were signs that supply chains were being disrupted, due to the efforts both at the border and domestically. We’re now able to see that the dedicated resources on the frontline are continuing to squeeze the P trade.”
The report shows the price of P has been steadily moving upwards since 2006, and remains high. The latest survey data shows the mean price of a gram of P is $768, up from $723 at the same time in 2010.
“However, this is not the time for sitting on our laurels. While the price of P has risen dramatically in Christchurch, we are seeing fluctuations around the country. While we are seeing progress, it’s more important than ever for authorities to continue to be vigilant.”
The nature of seizures at New Zealand’s borders is continuing to change. Seizure levels of precursor chemicals, like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, are down 44 per cent compared to the same time last year. In contrast, seizures of methamphetamine are rising. In the first nine of months of 2011, 23 kilograms of methamphetamine were seized at the border – nearly 95 per cent of the total seized during 2010.
“While the increase in methamphetamine seizures at the border may indicate that the coordinated law enforcement effort is pushing manufacturing offshore, it also shows New Zealand is increasingly being targeted by a wider range of criminal groups looking to traffick P into the country,” says Mr Key.
“Border agencies are rolling out enhanced surveillance equipment to help identify participants in drug trafficking syndicates.”
The changing nature of seizures at the border is echoed in the changing nature of P manufacturing domestically, says Mr Key.
“There is evidence that manufacturers have changed their operating methods in an effort to avoid law enforcement detection. Manufacturers appear to be increasingly storing equipment and chemicals at several locations rather than in a central place.
“This shows Police’s targeting of P manufacturing is having an impact, with criminal groups having to change the way they operate. However, it’s too early to say whether or not the supply of P is reducing.”
The report also shows:
• Police have identified around $92 million worth of assets believed to have been obtained through criminal means since the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act came into force at the end of 2009. Nearly half of this – $45 million – relates to methamphetamine offending. Of the $92 million identified, restraining orders have been applied to around $41 million.
• The proportion of offenders with methamphetamine convictions receiving Alcohol or Drug assessments is rising – up to 20.2 per cent in 2010 from 16.8 per cent in 2008.
• The number of convictions for supplying or dealing methamphetamine in 2010 was just over two-and-a-half times greater than in 2009. The Police’s Methamphetamine Control Strategy has led to more offenders going through the justice system and being charged with multiple offences.
“The coordinated action against P by a number of government agencies is producing results,” says Mr Key. “This report shows that, over time, the work to contain the methamphetamine trade is achieving the right results. All indicators suggest ‘containment’ and this should be seen as success.
“Any softening in our hard-line stance against P could undo several years of good work. Those who profit from the misery caused by P should realise we are committed to stamping out the harm this drug is causing New Zealand communities.”