Auckland police say drugs they found in a city-wide swoop on Wednesday have been linked to ecstasy pills that have been making people sick and violent.[image:3778:half:right]
They say they found hundreds of thousands of ecstasy pills during raids on properties across the city.
Twenty-two people have been arrested, among them two non-sworn police staff.
Some of them appeared in court in Auckland on Thursday.
Police say they believe the group was responsible for 80-90% of New Zealand's ecstasy supply.
They say some of the pills printed with a rocket symbol are linked to a batch of red rocket pills that saw people admitted to hospital earlier this year.
Detective Inspector Bruce Good says some of the people affected by the pills have had to be sedated by hospital staff.
The raid follows a 12-month investigation into the supply and distribution of drugs.
Detective Inspector Good told Checkpoint police believe the operation has been going on for some years putting out tens of thousands of pills a week that would cost around $40 each on the street.
He says the operation was done on a commercial basis and was quite sophisticated.
One of the pill factories was on a premises legitimately producing rat poison.
Detective Inspector Good describes the possible involvement of police employees in the drug ring as embarrassing.
But he says there are 12,000 police staff in New Zealand and some of them will fall foul of the law.
He says the arrests show that officers are willing to apply the law to their own colleagues.