Months of investigative work has led to the arrest of more than 10 people with known gang links in Southland, for offences as serious as attempted murder.
This week sees the termination of Operation Pakari, an investigation which began last year into a number of serious offences believed to be linked to the Mongrel Mob in Southland, and in particular the Mataura Chapter.
The arrests over the past two days follow months of investigative work by Invercargill Police, supported by wider staff both inside and outside of the Southland District, targeting organised crime.
Operation Pakari is part of the nationwide Operation Cobalt, focussed on the harm caused by gang offending in our communities.
The incidents involved include a drive-by shooting in Centre Street, Invercargill in January 2022; incidents in February and in April last year where people were dropped off at Gore Hospital seriously injured; and a drive-by shooting in Elizabeth Street, Invercargill last June.
Staff had by midday Wednesday executed 12 search warrants at addresses in Mataura, Gore, Dunedin, and Hamilton.
As of that same time, 11 males aged between 16 and 43 with links to the Mongrel Mob have been arrested – many of whom have strong links to gangs and organised crime in the district.
They were due to appear in Invercargill District Court today and in coming days.
Three arrests for the Southland-based offending were made in in Auckland, with the assistance of our District and National Organised Crime Group colleagues.
Charges faced by those arrested include attempted murder, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and firearms offences.
As the investigations are ongoing, Police cannot rule out further arrests.
Southland Area Commander Inspector Mike Bowman acknowledges the great work achieved as part of the operation.
“This operation has been about protecting the community and ensuring Invercargill, Gore and Mataura continue to be safe places to live.
“The investigative team has worked tirelessly to achieve the results we see here today, and the outcome is the result of all of their hard work and dedication.”
Police are committed to disrupting organised crime groups and the significant harm they cause our families and our communities, says Inspector Bowman.
“These groups are not welcome here; we see the harm they inflict through organised criminal activity and we will target the people who seek to profit from that harm.
“We will continue to target and suppress unlawful gang behaviour in order to protect and enhance the safety of our community and staff.
“It is our priority to ensure everyone in our communities feels safe and is safe.”
In order to achieve this for the long-term, Southland Police realised they needed to engage in a deeper way with the affected families as a result of these warrants and arrests.
Following the warrants executed this week, Police has had dedicated teams alongside social agencies heading into the family homes and offer immediate support to those who in many cases suddenly find themselves struggling.
“It’s one thing to arrest a parent, it’s another to leave another caregiver struggling to support the family,” Inspector Bowman says.
“While we are focused on holding people to account for what is serious violent offending, Police’s role is also to be victim-focused and help preventing further harm from occurring.”
Police are doing this by ensuring that households affected by this offending receive the appropriate support they need.
“This could be as simple as budgeting advice, or more significant interventions such as child welfare agencies being involved,” Inspector Bowman says.
Anyone in our community, whether directly affected by this offending or not, who is struggling is encouraged to reach out to relevant services.
As well, we continue to encourage anyone with information about illegal activity taking place in their community to contact 105, or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.
If there is immediate risk to life or property, call 111.