A major organised crime syndicate has been busted by Bay of Plenty police and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of methamphetamine as well as guns, gold and a 50-foot-launch moored in Tauranga Marina have been seized.
A six-month operation, called Operation Safari, wrapped up yesterday. It peaked over the past two weeks and finished with a tally of 16 raids on properties throughout the region, 12 of which involved Tauranga vehicles, a Haines Hunter power boat, the launch and properties in Omanawa and Otumoetai.
Police said the operation would significantly disrupt the supply of methamphetamine in the region.
Nine Western Bay of Plenty people and a man from Rotorua were arrested. Together they face more than 90 serious drug charges with further charges expected.
Police found four methamphetamine laboratories in Tauranga, including one in a car. Chemicals and ingredients used to make methamphetamine worth up to $850,000 were also found, with the capability of producing about $2.4 million worth of the drug.
Also seized was more than $200,000 in cash, $100,000 worth of silver and gold coins and bars, nine illegal firearms, 17 cars, five motorcycles including a Harley Davidson, a rural property and $268,000 worth of methamphetamine.
Bay of Plenty district crime manager Detective Inspector Rob Jones said the focus was on targeting those who earned a living from manufacturing P.
Mr Jones urged people to be aware of suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods.
Organised crime isn't something that happens somewhere else.
Sadly, it's just as likely to be happening in your neighbourhood as it is in New Zealand's biggest cities."
The three local labs were in varying stages and were managed and dismantled by the Police Northern Clan Lab.
Pre-cursor ingredients at the Omanawa and Otumoetai properties were discovered buried in gardens.
Detective Senior Sergeant of the Organised Crime Squad, Lindsay Pilbrow, said the consequences of drug-related offending and drug use could not be underestimated.
Drugs are harmful and methamphetamine is particularly harmful.
The impacts are wide-reaching and beyond the individual user and often translate into other areas of crime such as burglary, stolen cars and property, serious violence and intimidation.
Mr Pilbrow said the operation highlighted the link to "property offending", as large amounts of stolen property was being fed through members of this group.
That is why targeting organised crime groups is an ongoing priority for police in the Bay of Plenty District.
Mr Pilbrow said the syndicate targeted in the raids was well organised with large-scale operations across the Bay of Plenty and stretching into Waikato and Auckland.
It had the technology, equipment, chemicals and capability to produce large quantities of methamphetamine. The amounts we recovered in the past two weeks alone had the potential to produce methamphetamine worth more than $2m.
As a result, we have significantly disrupted the supply of methamphetamine in the Bay of Plenty. This has obvious and real benefits for our local communities.
The operation is the second of its kind in the past two years in the Bay of Plenty.
A container of pre-cursor chemicals and materials uncovered buried in a Bay of Plenty property.
2nd October 2010
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