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You've got meth: NZ residents urged to check letterboxes for drug shipments

The Guardian The Guardian 21/11/2016 Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
The town of Clyde in Central Otago, New Zealand. © Central Otago District Council The town of Clyde in Central Otago, New Zealand. Drugs are being mailed to the letterboxes of unoccupied holiday homes in New Zealand’s deep south as methamphetamine use in country’s peaceful and picturesque Central Otago district increases.

The region in the southern south island, which is best known for its pinot noir vineyards and adventure sports, is a tourist mecca for foreigners and locals.

But Malcolm Inglis, southern district detective senior sergeant, warned on Monday that over the last five years instances of hard drug crime have increased 100 foldand locals residents were largely responsible. 

Clyde, a sleepy rural town of just 1000 people is the latest target, with police intercepting four packages of drugs posted to unoccupied holiday homes in the town.

Inglis said letterbox drug deliveries were on the rise in the region.

“There is a very transient population in Central Otago and there has always been drugs coming and going,” said Inglis.

“But with the rise in popularity of methamphetamine and the ease of ordering drugs off the internet we have seen a sharp rise in people dealing hard drugs such as P [methamphetamine], MDMA, ecstasy and LSD.”

Inglis said the owners of the homes were unconnected to the importation, but their property had either been monitored for the drug deliveries by a local on the ground, or by someone using track and trace software online, which allows the sender to monitor a package’s journey from source to destination.

People using hard drugs in Central Otago included shearers, businessmen and tourists, he said. The packages sent to the holiday homes were addressed to people the owners had never heard of, and had usually been posted from China, the Netherlands or other European countries.

Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan said hard drugs were traditionally not much of an issue for the sparsely populated region.. Cadogan, a criminal lawyer, said the latest letterbox busts had been a “wake-up call”.

“We are not a Shangri-la down here, we are not immune to outside forces,” said Cadogan.

“In the past holiday homes have usually only been targeted for petty thefts like raiding the wine cellar, so this is new. And it is dangerous, because P has such a devastating effect [on users].”

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