Mongrel Mob member fighting meth epidemic says prevention's the only way to stop people getting hooked

Source: 1News

A gang member fighting the methamphetamine epidemic said prevention and education is the only way to help people beat addiction to the drug.

Porirua-based senior Mongrel Mob member Dennis Makalio spoke to TVNZ1's Breakfast today, after research released yesterday revealed the price of methamphetamine is at record low in North Island centres .

According to the latest research from Massey University, a gram of methamphetamine costs as little as $450 in some areas, with Auckland, Waikato and Wellington ranking among the cheapest. Nationwide it's dropped almost $40 to $500 a gram.

Mr Makalio, who was also a former addict, started the P Pull campaign in 2016 with his wife Liz. Its Facebook group now has 7000 members.

He described the problem with the drug, which he says has been around since the 1990s, as "so evil and sneaky".

"We created a movement because there was no help out there. Most rehabs weren't prepared for this kind of addiction."

Mr Makalio said they opened a safe place where there was no judgement for people to come in and talk about their addiction and tell their stories. They now have walk-ins around the North island where ex-addicts work with addicts.

"All this professional stuff, it doesn't work. At the end of the day we were doing this and at the same time promoting prevention and education - that's the only key you can stop the empire of addiction."

But when asked by Breakfast host John Campbell whether the Mongrel Mob was making money off methamphetamine, Mr Makalio said, "I'm sick of the blame and shame game. This is a national problem, he whole of New Zealand problem".

He continued: "We ain't going to go forward if you're going to keep blaming and shaming the gangs, okay. You never talk about ... the rich going to the courts for this but you always keep blaming the gangs."

When asked if he was involved in any way in the meth business, he responded pointing to his shirt slogan, "yeah, with Don't Meth Around".

National Party leader Simon Bridges has put out several statements in the past week, including one which said meth was increasing because of gangs. He asked "where are the arrests?".

But Mr Makalio turned the questions to him, asking when National was in Government why they didn't admit there was a problem with methampetamine?

"If they really want to blame someone, blame themselves for not addressing it 30 years ago.

"It's so far out of control. You can't help an empire out of control, an empire full of addicts," he said, adding there needs to be a focus on implementing prevention and education programmes, especially in schools.

"You can't keep helping addicts, we've got to stop it from going into people's mouths so people have got a choice."