A sobering tale

Seized Mongrel Mob Ford Raptor. Photo / Alan Gibson.

In a rare burst of real investigative journalism, A Newspaper has published a fine piece by Jared Savage looking at the effects of meth on a small rural town, Kawerau. It is well worth a read to see what locals can achieve.

The local constable was being stonewalled by his bosses while the Mongrel Mob drug lords ran rampant and flaunted their power and success in everyone’s face. So the constable went to the top and wrote to Mike Bush to explain that the Mongrel Mob were running Kawerau and the police needed to act. Now. Quote.

Bush moved quickly to task the National Organised Crime Group (NOCG), which is responsible for most of the country’s best covert drug investigations. […]

What was happening in Kawerau – essentially the retail end at the bottom of the supply chain – did not meet the traditional threshold for NOCG.

But the order came from the very top. So in August 2017, Operation Notus started. […] Six months later, Operation Notus ended.

Around 300 staff were involved in the raids in which nearly 30 firearms were seized and $2 million of property frozen. […]

More than 50 people were arrested; the Mongrel Mob were no longer in charge.

“It’s time this country woke up to the bullshit that’s going on around here. This is going on all around the country,” said Malcolm Campbell, the mayor of Kawerau.

“This is a scourge on society. When you’ve got young kids walking around fried out of their heads, it’s not a good thing. It’s not good for the town and it’s not good for anyone. We’re picking up the pieces.”

Campbell, who is also the town’s butcher, was at a press conference speaking alongside Inspector Kevin Taylor and Chris Marjoribanks.

Taylor revealed 2.6kg of meth was alleged to be sold by the gang during the course of the investigation.

If purchased for the standard $100 for a “point” – 0.1 gram – the value of the drugs was estimated at $2.6m.

That’s a lot of money for a town at the wrong end of the economic spectrum.

But the cost of the “social harm” of that quantity of the Class-A drug was calculated to be $5.4m. […]

Families that Marjoribanks had grown up alongside were now prostituting children to pay for the P habit of the elder members of the whanau.

“It shocked me. I would never have believed it if someone else had told me those stories. It went much wider than that – some physical abuse that was really quite horrific,” says Marjoribanks.

The deprivation of children in these homes, no food, no proper clothing, is borne deep within the families.”

The malaise of methamphetamine settled across the town. It became acceptable.

Operation Notus was the circuit breaker.

Crime dropped by 34 per cent in the three months after the arrests in March 2018, including a 50 per cent decrease in violent offending.

In the weeks after the raids, Marjoribanks said 58 methamphetamine users sought help for themselves. [

With 6000 people in town, that means nearly 1 per cent of the entire population had put their hand up for help. […]

It used to be teenagers but now children as young as 11 and 12 have significant meth habits, he says. […]

Around 600 meth users were identified in Kawerau, population 6000, says Detective Superintendent Greg Williams. […] End quote.

A Newspaper