The United Nations 2011 Global ATS (amphetamine-type stimulant) Assessment report confirms that New Zealand’s ‘P’ problem is now an organised crime problem, Police Association President Greg O’Connor said.
“The UN report confirms that international organised crime has targeted New Zealand and is now heavily involved in importation of methamphetamine and precursors, and locally-based organised crime is responsible for domestic manufacture and distribution,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The problem is now bigger than ‘P’. The problem now is organised crime networks, which are able to import and distribute any number of drug types. For the time being, ‘P’ is their main focus because it offers the biggest profits. But we would be naïve to think that, if we can somehow reduce demand for methamphetamine, organised crime will shut up shop and go away. It won’t. It will simply shift its focus to develop a new drug trend, be that ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, or some new designer drug."
Mr O’Connor said the growth and development of organised crime had largely been built on the back of methamphetamine dealing profits from the late 1990s.
“The Police Association first started warning about the threat of methamphetamine as far back as 1997. Those warnings were largely ignored. Meth-dealing gangs made huge profits which were laundered and reinvested in increasingly sophisticated offending across a wide range of crime types. The profits also attracted new business partners in the form of international organised crime groups, who have helped New Zealand crime groups get smarter and more serious about the way they do business.
“While ‘P’ is a serious problem, we need to ensure we focus on the cause and not just the symptom – and the cause is organised crime,” Mr O’Connor said.