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Drugs a main factor in rise of gangs in New Zealand, police say

Gangs are growing at the fastest rate since the 1970s.

It's thought the huge profits being made from methamphetamine is to blame.

Over the past two years gang numbers have risen dramatically from just over 5,000, to 6729 - that's a 26 per cent increase.

“The gangs have come back into vogue, now they're getting young people in, young people attract young people and it just seems to be an element of 'cool' back into the gangs and so we're seeing this growth. And tremendous growth at that,” says gang expert, Jarrod Gilbert.

The police minister says drug money is partly to blame.

“Theres a number of factors of why gangs are on the increase - first of all the extreme amount of money being made by meth - police estimate $500 million every year goes into the back pocket of gangs,” says Stuart Nash.

The Mongrel Mob is said to be heavily involved in the methampetamine trade - they now make up half of all New Zealand gang members.

“These gangs are peddling misery in to our communities. by and large they are responsible for the P trade,” says Mr Nash.

The P trade has also attracted the arrival of sophisticated Australian motorbike gangs and many use social media to recruit.

"There’s a lot of hype around the new gangs coming into the country, it's hard when our young people are being enticed into a world that's not a real world,” says Black Power’s Eugenie Ryder.

National leader Simon Bridges says Labour could have done more to address the problem.

“I think the government's had an over-focus on reducing prison populations, I think also they've resisted things that would have worked like clamping down on gangs and guns,” he says.

National is promising to release a plan to crack-down on gangs next year but the government believes it's slowly winning the war, already seizing one and a half tonnes of meth this year.

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Over the past two years gang numbers have risen dramatically from just over 5000 to 6729, a 26 per cent increase. Source: 1 NEWS