Seven people have been arrested as part of an ongoing police operation into the unlawful possession of firearms and drug dealing amid a spate of drive-by shootings and violent attacks by gangs in the Hawke's Bay.
They were arrested after police executed search warrants across the Hawke's Bay, Raupunga and Gisborne since December 8, Detective Inspector Rob Jones said today in a statement.
Twenty-one firearms — a number of them loaded — have since been recovered and seized by police, including a high-powered MSSA style assault rifle and numerous sawn-off weapons and a revolver, Jones said.
Ammunition, methamphetamine, cannabis and $26000 in cash were found at one address, according to police.
Police said a number of the firearms were found at addresses linked to Black Power and Mongrel Mob members and their associates.
Jones said the raids "highlight real concern around the apparent ease of access by criminals including gang members to possess firearms and ammunition".
A 50-year-old man has since appeared in the Wairoa District Court on firearms charges.
A 47-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman, both from Waipukurau, were arrested and charged with drug dealing offences relating to methamphetamine.
A 35-year-old man was arrested and charged with supplying methamphetamine. Police expect to lay further charges relating to firearms and receiving offences. He has been remanded in custody, and is due to next appear in the Gisborne District Court on January 13, 2021.
A 58-year-old Hastings man was arrested on drug dealing charges relating to methamphetamine.
A 49-year-old Eskdale man was arrested for theft and unlawfully on property and a 37-year-old Bayview woman were arrested for possession of methamphetamine and firearms charges. Both will be appearing in the Napier District Court today.
“We want to send a clear message that such criminal activity won’t be tolerated,” Jones said.
“It causes immeasurable harm in our communities — harm that we are committed to reducing.”
He said police will target anyone involved in illicit drug manufacture and distribution, adding that the the number of high-powered firearms seized indicate "a willingness to perpetrate intimidation and violence in order to achieve illegal activity".
Jones said police will continue to have dialogue with gang and community leaders in an ongoing effort to prevent future violence.
Inquiries are continuing to locate people involved in similar offending and establish how the firearms have come into the possession of gang members, he said.
Police said they are unable to rule out the possibility of further arrests or charges being laid.