Police have sent a warning to professionals and the Comanchero Motorcycle Gang after today's raids on the gang and arrests across Auckland, which also targeted a lawyer and an accountant suspected of money laundering.
Six men aged between 24 and 41 are expected to appear in the Auckland District Court this afternoon on charges including money laundering, participating in an organised criminal group, conspiracy to import the class A drug methamphetamine, conspiracy to supply the class B drug ephedrine and unlawful possession of firearms.
More than 80 police executed search warrants at 10 properties across the Auckland region today, as part of the second phase of an investigation dubbed Operation Nova, run by the National Organised Crime Group.
The first phase, in February, saw the arrest of five people in New Zealand and one person in Fiji, as well as the seizure of about 11kgs of methamphetamine, and 39kgs of cocaine, with a combined street value of over $25 million.
As part of today’s efforts, almost $4 million in assets have been restrained including two residential properties and several high-end vehicles, including a number of Range Rovers, a Rolls Royce and Harley Davidson motorcycles.
About $60,000 of cash and firearms have been seized, including a loaded pistol at one address, and a MSSA pistol grip shotgun and rounds of ammunition at another.
Detective Superintendent Iain Chapman, National Manager of the Financial Crime Group, has told media police have "effectively targeted professional facilitators, in this case a lawyer and an accountant who have chosen in their professional capacity, we allege, to enable this gang to launder their funds".
"Police have tools and the resource available to us to effectively target this profession. So I want to make it really clear that if you in your professional capacity choose to enable an organised crime group to flourish through laundering of their funds that you can expect the full and robust attention from police," Mr Chapman told media.
He said a lawyer and an accountant have allegedly been providing aid to the gang by helping them to set up businesses or trusts for the purpose of money laundering, adding inquiries into this are ongoing.
Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, National Manager of the National Organised Crime Group said the Comancheros have been formed in New Zealand as a result of the deportation of Comanchero patch members from Australia.
The gang is rapidly expanding on this side of the Tasman, sitting at about 20 members and associates, he said.
"There's no doubt that they made it pretty clear that when they came here they wanted to carry on doing their business. We were ready for them.
"The message here is don't think you can come here to New Zealand and behave in that way. If you want to come back here and be part of the community be part of the community, but if you want to come here and offend and commit serious offending you'll be held accountable."
Mr Williams said there's no doubt gangs have access to military style semi-automatic weapons and other weapons and are regularly carrying them.
"The gangs came out recently saying they're not gong to give them up. Today just with these warrants we recovered an MSSA and pistols. It shows it's not really about the bling. Really behind it is violence both in the home, the way they operate and the way they're going to control the markets in which they're operating.
Mr Williams also said a lot of the gangs "actively go out and target gun owners for the purpose of taking these guns. And they trade in them. There's a black market in there".
"We're here to hold them accountable."