Police have arrested seven people and seized 21 firearms and hauls of methamphetamine, cannabis and cash from search warrants prompted by violent gang incidents in the region.
Eastern investigations manager detective Inspector Rob Jones said the search warrants had been executed across Hawke’s Bay, Raupunga and Gisborne since December 8.
Jones said the warrants formed part of an ongoing investigation targeting the unlawful possession of firearms and drug dealing offences by gangs across the Eastern District, following drive-by shootings and violent attacks over recent weeks.
In total, 21 firearms were recovered and seized, including a high-powered MSSA style assault rifle and numerous sawn-off weapons and a revolver.
A number of the firearms seized were loaded.
Methamphetamine, cannabis, ammunition and cash were also seized.
A total of $26,000 was seized at one address, according to Jones.
A number of addresses searched where firearms and ammunition were located are connected to members and associates of Black Power and the Mongrel Mob.
Jones said these raids highlight police concerns around the “apparent ease of access by criminals including gang members to possess firearms and ammunition”.
“Eastern Police are committed to targeting organised crime activity in the area and those individuals who are in unlawful possession of firearms,” he said.
“We want to send a clear message that such criminal activity won’t be tolerated. It causes immeasurable harm in our communities – harm that we are committed to reducing.”
A 50-year-old man was arrested and appeared in 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 male was arrested and charged with supplying methamphetamine. He has been remanded in custody and is due to appear in the Gisborne District Court on the January 31, 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 being unlawfully on property and a 37-year-old Bayview woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and firearms charges. Both will be appearing in the Napier District Court on December 23.
Police also expect to lay further charges relating to firearms and receiving offences.
Jones said police will continue target anyone involved in illicit drug manufacture and distribution, the number of high-powered firearms seized indicates a willingness to perpetrate intimidation and violence in order to achieve illegal activity.
“Similarly, police will continue to have dialogue with gang and community leaders in an ongoing effort to prevent future violence,” he said.
“The recovery of these firearms is a huge relief to police and those individuals in unlawful possession of firearms should expect to be targeted by police.”
Enquiries to locate those involved in the offending and establish how these firearms have come into the possession of gang members are ongoing.
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