Eighteen people have been arrested following a major drug bust in Bay of Plenty.
Police say two clandestine labs have been put out of operation, potentially taking millions of dollars of methamphetamine off the streets, following a four month operation and a series of search warrants in Maketu, Te Puke and Tauranga.
One clandestine lab was located in Tauranga last week and a second was subject to a significant fire in Katikati on December 9.
Police yesterday confirmed a clandestine drug lab was at the scene of explosions and a fire that forced evacuations at Katikati, north of Tauranga on Sunday.
It is alleged the fire was deliberately lit by occupants of the property as police, backed by the Armed Offenders Squad, executed a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act late Sunday morning. No one was injured during the incident.
Sixteen men and two women have been arrested for drugs offences, police said.
Police said thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine and precursors with the potential to make millions of dollars worth of methamphetamine were also recovered during the operation, along with firearms, ammunition and cash.
Three motorbikes and two vehicles have also been seized.
"These are sweet victories in an ongoing battle against organised criminals and gangs," Detective Senior Sergeant Lindsay Pilbrow said.