SEARCH warrants were executed by police in Opotiki on Thursday. Photo Sven Carlsson OB4645-01

EASTERN Bay police executed search warrants in Opotiki on Thursday.

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Standen said the community was telling police they did not want gangs in Opotiki.

“We will be actively taking steps across the Eastern Bay to protect the vulnerable from the risks of methamphetamine and other organised crime,” he said.

“We have particular gangs purporting to be good Samaritans and law-abiding citizens in Opotiki, yet still dealing in drugs and related crime.”

Mr Standen said the presence of particular gangs in the town was drawing a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons.

“This will be our focus,” he said.

There were four search warrants executed, one of which was with the support of the armed offender squad.

So far, two people have been arrested and are facing charges for drugs-related offending.

“Those charged will be appearing in the Opotiki District Court on a date not yet finalised,” Mr Standen said.

If anyone has information on drugs or gang activity in Opotiki you can contact the Opotiki police or consider using CRIME STOPPERS calling 0800 555 111.

All calls can be anonymous, and all information is received by the CRIME STOPPERS data centre when you call.

Storm of social media comments

NEWS of the search warrants executed by police in Opotiki last week generated a storm of comments on socia media.

Several people said they had noticed Opotiki was getting worse in terms of the gang presence.

Some of the writers said they were former residents who had noticed a deterioration when coming back to visit Opotiki.

Others said gangs had been in Opotiki for a long time, and that the police needed “luck” to remove them from the town.

Comments include:

“After being away for six years and coming back to Opotiki for holiday few weeks ago, you normally leave your hometown saying, ‘wow homes still the same it never changes!’ But in this case, it was the opposite. It has changed. Saw it, felt it, and couldn’t wait to leave it.”

– Freda Biddle

“Such a shame because in spite of the harmony of the area a lot of folk won’t come to the area because they are scared” – Tresa Gielen

“Felt intimidation presence a week or so ago while at the ATM by two little red demons, I left Opotiki and travelled to Whakatane to do my business.”

– Gail Hamilton

“I love Opotiki regardless but do hope the meth problem gets solved soon as it is destroying so many families not only in Opotiki but nationwide.”

– Sheryl Ferguson

“Aue it is all our whanau despite what colour they affiliate too so again the same korero ano. I love them all as they are my family however ABUSE in any form is unacceptable to me from any person.”

– Bradie Paul

“Little do they know the gangs and the drugs been around for years they acting like it magically appeared out of nowhere.” – Devs Tamihana

“This is not a problem endemic to Opotiki, the Bay of Plenty or NZ. It touches most corners of the world and in many cases way more virulent than Opotiki.” – Mary Wooderson

“Why all of a sudden now? Should have done it many moons ago. Majority of the gangs are family so good luck with that one.” – Deedees Kora

sven.carlsson@opotikinews.co.nz