Firearms seized during Operation Cobalt searches in the Far North. Photo / NZ Police
Northland police have discovered guns, ammunition, drugs and stolen property while executing 10 search warrants under Operation Cobalt.
The searches, carried out by organised crime teams over the last week, targeted an alleged methamphetamine distribution network.
Forty-five grams of methamphetamine, 250 cannabis plants, $36,000 cash and $50,000 worth of stolen property, including vehicles, were located and seized by police.
Police discovered 16 firearms, including prohibited weapons, and ammunition in the searches which took place in Kaitāia, Taipa, Kaikohe and Kaeo.
Nine people, allegedly linked to gangs including Tribesmen, Head Hunters and the Mongrel Mob, were arrested.
They face 57 charges between them, including possession of methamphetamine for supply, supplying methamphetamine, cultivating cannabis and unlawful possession of firearms.
One, a 40-year-old woman from Kaitāia with strong links to the Tribesmen gang, was arrested on February 27 and faces three counts of possession of methamphetamine for supply and nine counts of supplying methamphetamine.
A 50-year-old man from Taipa, also with gang links, was arrested on February 28 and charged with possession of methamphetamine for supply, cultivating cannabis and possession of substances capable of manufacturing methamphetamine.
Both have been remanded in custody and will reappear in the Kaitāia District Court on March 15.
A 35-year-old woman from Kaitāia, with links to the Mongrel Mob, was arrested on March 6 and charged with possession of cannabis for supply and 25 counts of supplying methamphetamine. She is due to appear in the Kaitāia District Court today.
The six others arrested will also appear in the Kaitāia District Court.
Northland CIB Detective Senior Sergeant Kevan Verry said police are committed to targeting gang offenders through Operation Cobalt.
“This latest operation is a culmination of several months of investigation work generated by intelligence we have received from our communities.
“We know that drugs are a driver of crime and that members of gangs and their wider criminal syndicates prey on the addiction of our communities, and have no qualms to make a profit off the misery of others.”
Police would also support users with addiction issues, Verry said.
“Police are also focused on helping break the drug addiction cycle and will continue to reach out to customers we identify of drug suppliers to offer a variety of support services and opportunities.
“Whilst the operation focused on the distributors of methamphetamine, it was also supported by staff from Northland Meth Harm Reduction Team, who have been following up on identified drug users to conduct home visits to proactively offer them help to break the addiction cycle.”
Police welcomed information from anyone with concerns about organised crime, gang activity or illegal possession of firearms.
People are encouraged to report online, by phoning 105 or anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. For anything that is happening now, police ask people to call 111.