Police have arrested eight people over hundreds of kilograms of cocaine imported into the country from Mexico.
The group, aged between 26 and 62, included two patched members of the Rotorua chapter of the Filthy Few Motorcycle Club.
The eight men arrested face a mixture of drug-related charges, including conspiracy to import a Class A controlled drug, importing a Class A controlled drug, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and possession for supply.
Police and the Customs Service carried out search warrants this morning at 11 properties, including addresses in Rotorua, Te Kaha, Te Puke, Omokoroa, Mount Albert and Auckland CBD. Police also searched a boat moored in Northland.
More than 100 Police and Customs staff, including members of the armed offenders squad, dog section, specialist search group, the Police clandestine laboratory team and Bay of Plenty and Northland district staff, were involved.
It’s alleged those involved conspired to import a large quantity of cocaine and methamphetamine into New Zealand in shipping containers.
It’s also alleged some of the group imported a smaller quantity of cocaine from their central American contacts by courier mail to sell and distribute.
Today’s arrests are the culmination of an eight-month investigation by police detectives.
Efforts to prevent drug harm
The police national organised crime group’s Acting Detective Inspector John Brunton says this investigation is another example of police efforts to prevent the devastating harm created by the sale and supply of illicit drugs.
“In this case, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated investigation team who worked around the clock, we were able to identify and disrupt this syndicate’s plans before the drug shipment reached New Zealand shores,” he says.
“We want to send a clear message that those importing or dealing such drugs will be found out, will be arrested and prosecuted.”
Police cannot rule out further arrests as the investigation continues.
The arrested men are due to appear in the Tauranga District Court over coming days.