A Police operation across Auckland has uncovered an alleged drug importation and money laundering operation valued at more than $60 million.
Four people have been arrested and vehicles, jewellery, ammunition and cash totalling around $1 million have been seized following a six-month investigation, Operation Chartruese, targeting an organised criminal group alleged to have been involved in the importation, sale and supply of Methamphetamine and MDMA as well as precursor chemicals and the laundering of the funds generated.
Yesterday, officers from the Financial Crime Group, National Organised Crime Group, and the Waitematā District executed 20 search warrants across Henderson, Albany, Dairy Flat, Te Atatū, Auckland City, Mt Roskill, Massey, Forest Hill, Riverhead, Ranui, Morningside and Bayview.
Police seized eight vehicles, two jet skis on trailers, 19 watches, ammunition, shotgun cartridges, imitation firearms, a Kimar pistol, 3.5 kilograms of methamphetamine, and about $100,000 in cash.
Four men, ranging in age from 37-47, are facing charges including participating in organised crime groups, importing methamphetamine, MDMA and precursors, supplying methamphetamine, MDMA and precursors and money laundering.
All four will appear in the North Shore District Court today.
Police enquiries are ongoing, and we are unable to rule out the possibility of further people being charged.
Last week the investigation team, alongside New Zealand Customs, identified an imported container at Ports of Auckland, which was to be delivered to a North Shore address controlled by the organised crime group.
A search of that container located 121kgs of methamphetamine, with a street value of approximately $50 million.
Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew Dunhill, Officer in Charge, Upper North Money Laundering Team, says the arrests and seized assets are the result of hard work and dedication by Police into drug importation and money laundering offending.
“This is a considerable seizure with more than eight million doses of harm taken off the streets,” he says.
“A significant syndicate has had its supply chain disrupted and it again highlights the determination of law enforcement to keep New Zealanders safe from the harm associated with methamphetamine.
“Methamphetamine impacts our communities in the worst of ways, and we are committed to taking every opportunity to disrupt this organised crime and hold offenders to account.
“These alleged offenders have also profited from laundering funds overseas that were believed to be generated from criminal offending and was illegally gained.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Dunhill says money laundering is not a victimless crime.
“By enabling organised crime groups to conceal the profits of their illegal activities, it is continuing a cycle of harm imposed on vulnerable communities that are preyed on by these groups.
“These arrests serve as a warning to anyone involved in money laundering activity. The Financial Crime Group is targeting money laundering offenders and those found to be engaging in this offending will be prosecuted.”
Money Laundering carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.
Customs Investigations Manager, Cam Moore says Customs is pleased to have worked alongside Police to stop this significant volume of methamphetamine from getting into New Zealand communities.
“As has been seen with other drugs seizures in recent months, transnational organised crime groups are continuing to smuggle significantly bigger quantities of drugs into New Zealand and Australia, and we are seeing these groups increasingly targeting the maritime supply chain to do it.
“Customs is determined to continue our intelligence gathering and investigations work with New Zealand Police and our international partner agencies to detect, track and disrupt these smuggling operations,” Moore says.