Seven men sentenced to jail for large-scale meth production

By Leo Horgan

Seven men who were found guilty of large-scale methamphetamine production and distribution have today been sentenced in the Auckland High Court.

Nearly two years ago today, the men were arrested as part of a long-running investigation by Detectives from the National Organised Crime Group (OFCANZ).

The operation was known as Op Sylvester.

On Tuesday 28 July 2015, hundreds of officers from across Auckland carried out search warrants at properties in Ellerslie, West Auckland, Ruakaka, Huntly and Tauranga.

The seven men, all of whom were Head Hunters gang members and associates, were arrested and charged with various offences relating to the sale and distribution of methamphetamine.

As well as arresting and charging the men on that day, Police also searched several properties including a warehouse on Marua Road, and seized thousands of dollars worth of property under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Cash, more than twenty cars and motorbikes, two properties and a boat were restrained under the proceeds of Crime Act.

The total value of these came to $2 164 805.00 (2.16 million.)  This equates to proceeds from their drug dealing being prevented for further offending equating to a ‘Proceeds of Crime Disruption Index’ value of $7.14 million.

In a statement released to media, police say “This was a long-running investigation over many months which looked into the criminal activities of the Head Hunters gang – the large scale production and distribution of methamphetamine.

“This gang, the Head Hunters and these men ran a commercial operation praying on the community solely for profit.”

According to the Drug Harm Index, which is published by the Ministry of Health, the social cost each year per kilogram of amphetamine-type stimulants sold into the community equates to real social harm of $1,239,000. 

“These sentences speak for themselves; this drug causes serious harm to our community and these offenders are going to prison for a long time because of it” says Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, National Manager, Organised Crime.

“I’d like to applaud the efforts of Detective Senior Sergeant John Sowter and his team of staff, they spent hundreds of hours working on this case from the investigation stage, through to the arrests, and right through to the court process.

“Today is the culmination of their work and their efforts have dealt a significant blow to the criminal fraternity” he says.