An 11-month investigation into an organised crime group in Auckland has netted drugs, cash, property and vehicles after search warrants were executed yesterday.
Detective inspector Paul Newman of the national organised crime group says 18 search warrants were carried out across the city yesterday as part of Operation Worthington.
These netted 44 kilograms in methamphetamine — valued at more than $44 million — half of which was concealed in a bathtub.
Police also seized 26kgs of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, five kgs of ketamine and three kgs of MDMA.
Nearly $1 million in cash, eight properties, a car park, and four high-end vehicles totalling more than $10 million were also seized.
Newman said more than 200 charges — relating to the importation of drugs, money laundering, and participating in an organised crime group — had been laid as a result of the operation against 21 people.
"We have followed the money and it has lead us to substantial drug offending. Money has been their weakness; it is hard to conceal and our investigation has exploited this," he said.
The news came as Police Minister Poto Williams said $500 million in cash and assets had been seized from gangs and organised criminals over the past four years.
"Gangs should not be making money from exploiting our communities. This Government is very clear — we will not tolerate organised crime and gangs and we are working hard to disrupt them," Williams said.
"Actions like this will go a long way to making New Zealanders safer by making a significant dent in the illicit economy — which causes so much harm in our communities.
"For every $1 seized, $3.30 of crime is disrupted, and for every $1 forfeited, $3.50 of crime is disrupted, meaning that in the last four years alone, we have removed approximately $1.6 billion from the illicit economy."
Those arrested were aged between 19 and 43 and are due to appear in the Auckland District Court.
"Police cannot rule out further arrests or charges as the operation remains ongoing," Newman said.