Fighting the demon

Inside New Zealand's Meth Crisis

After failing to fix its 20-year methamphetamine crisis, New Zealand is gripped by the second wave of a devastating epidemic. The Herald spent six months with users, recovering addicts and those trying to save them.

The documentary Fighting The Demon takes you inside their world.

On June 12, 2016 police seized almost 500kg of methamphetamine at a remote beach in Northland.

That single find, with a street value of $450 million, was bigger than the total seizures of the previous two years combined.

It signalled the beginning of a new wave of New Zealand's meth epidemic.

For 20 years, law enforcement had fought to eradicate the drug and lost. Now meth is purer and more available than ever before.

Fighting the Demon is an unflinching investigation from deep within the crisis, created by a team of investigative reporters who spent six months in communities ravaged by meth.

In towns across the country, the journalists met users desperate for help, former addicts still struggling years after giving up and families forever ripped apart by the impact of the drug.

They followed law enforcement hunting traffickers, frontline police working to stop dealers and health professionals picking up the pieces left behind.

They found a country targeted by the world’s most sophisticated organised crime groups.

The meth they traffic is stronger than ever and shipments are growing larger. Ten years ago, 100kg was a record bust for law enforcement. Now, it’s almost routine.

And while smugglers once sent cold medicine to be “cooked” into meth, they now send the finished product. It’s easy to distribute, and easy to sell.

In many places meth is easier to buy than marijuana. Most users can score within an hour. Deals are brazen. The latest Illicit Drug Monitoring System report, from 2016, reported addicts more frequently buying on street corners, in parks, even at work.

The price of a point, around $100 for 0.1g, is unchanged from a decade ago. But where “P” was once a party drug for the middle classes, in this second wave, its victims are most likely to be the poor.

Fighting the Demon takes you inside their world. Scroll back to the top to watch the 40-minute film.