Police have charged nine people, including a high-value individual serving a prison sentence, for operating a drug ring supplying and distributing methamphetamine and cannabis.
Police allege the ringleader of the operation was sending instructions from his North Island prison cell using a smuggled mobile phone. He is one of three individuals to have been in prison at the time of their alleged offending.
The 35-year-old appeared at the Hastings District Court via audio visual link today and was remanded to appear on 22 June 2023. He did not enter a plea and has been granted name suppression through to trial.
The operation began in January and digital intercepts were carried out over a 30-day period. Each week Police intercepted approximately 25 hours of phone calls, text messages and social media activity on a phone used by the alleged ringleader.
Eight others are believed to have been involved with the operation: Three women aged 23, 27 and 40, and five men aged 21, 23, 28, 36 and 39. Four of them also appeared in court today, two via audio visual link, and were also remanded to appear on 22 June 2023.
In mid-April Police executed the first of a number of search warrants targeting the suspects. Thousands of dollars in cash and drugs have been recovered, including 775 rounds of ammunition from a couple who do not possess a firearms licence.
All nine face a range of charges related to the supply and distribution of drugs, unlawful possession of explosives (ammunition), and money laundering. All but one of the nine face charges of participating in an organised criminal group.
In total, three prisoners were charged for their roles in organising the distribution of methamphetamine and cannabis. They are alleged to have used smuggled mobile phones to communicate together.
Detective Inspector David De Lange says this was brazen offending.
“We believe this operation has dealt a significant blow to the flow of drugs in the Hawke’s Bay, and will keep money out of the pockets of organised criminals, who benefit from this offending.
“This was a sophisticated operation. Organised criminal groups go to great lengths to make money from the drugs they sell and Police allege this operation was no exception.”
As the case is before the court, Police are unable to comment further.
Image credit: Donald Tong