Police acknowledge the sentencing of six individuals following the successful termination of Operation Schultz, a year-long operation targeting the theft of 3050kg of iodine from a freight company in Tauranga in November 2019.
Iodine is a material used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.
At the time, the stolen iodine was valued at $228,000 and was capable of producing 2318kg of methamphetamine, with a street value of $370 million.
Enquiries also uncovered a significant drug dealing network centred in the Bay of Plenty and extending into the Waikato region.
Operation Schultz was a joint investigation led by National Organised Crime Group’s National Clandestine Laboratory Response Team and Customs NZ, and supported by local staff.
The investigation led to 13 arrests. Seven of those people have pleaded guilty at earlier hearings.
These six individuals being sentenced today bring the court action in relation to this operation to a conclusion.
‘Police would like to acknowledge our Customs partners, who were jointly involved in this operation, and who played a significant role in identifying and preventing large quantities of drugs from entering New Zealand,’ said Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson, National Organised Crime Group.
‘Local staff from Rotorua, Tauranga and Waikato were instrumental in supporting this operation and contributing to its success.
‘We hope the conclusion of this matter brings reassurance to our communities that we will not tolerate this kind of large-scale drug operation spreading harm among our people.
‘These drugs destroy lives, and we see the impacts of that first-hand. The social harm done by illicit drugs in New Zealand communities cannot be understated.
‘The lives of addicted users are ruined, and the hurt inflicted on those who care about them is enormous.
‘We encourage anyone affected by drug addiction to seek help through the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or free text 868.
‘Anyone with information about drug offending in their communities is urged to contact Police. Information can also be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.’