At least 20 people have been arrested and 85 charges filed in Operation Pakari, a Southland-based termination focused on violent offending.
There have been 20 warrants executed this week in Mataura, Gore, Invercargill, Dunedin, and Hamilton. All of those arrested have links to the Mongrel Mob, and the most significant charges include attempted murder.
Arrests have been made across Southland, and in Auckland and Hawke’s Bay.
Inquiries are still ongoing and Police cannot rule out further arrests or charges.
Those arrested have either already appeared in court or are due to appear in Invercargill District Court in coming days.
Southland Area Commander Inspector Mike Bowman says the detail and planning involved in an operation like this is immense, particularly as it involves a number of connected incidents over several months.
“The first of these incidents was in late January 2022, which spurred further violent offending in the form of drive-by shootings, and violent assaults which left people with critical injuries,” he says.
“I’m really proud of the painstaking work our investigation and frontline teams have done since then, to be able to hold these offenders to account.”
Around 50 staff from across Southland and Southern District assisted with the operation, including the Invercargill and Dunedin-based Armed Offenders Squad, and also North Island-based members of the National Organised Crime Group.
Operation Pakari falls under the umbrella of Operation Cobalt – a nationally-focussed operation targeting the offending and harm caused by gangs in our community.
Southland Police are also focussed on ensuring whānau and household members who are directly impacted by this week’s activity are well-supported.
“This has involved specialist Family Liaison Officers entering homes directly following these warrants, looking to engage with those left behind once an arrest has been made,” Inspector Bowman says.
“We thank our partner agencies working alongside these family members to support them and help ensure any further harm and offending is minimised.”
The Resilience to Organised Crime in Communities (ROCC) programme was successfully launched in Southland this year, and brings together a range of agencies such as mana whenua, NGO providers, community representatives, Police, and those with lived experience of harm from organised crime.
As well as those directly impacted, Inspector Bowman hopes these arrests help provide some reassurance to the wider Southland community that Police will not tolerate this offending.
“Our role is to minimise and prevent harm from occurring in our communities, to ensure everyone is safe and feels safe,” he says.
There will be extra Police patrols across Southland for the next few weeks to help provide reassurance to the community.
If you have any information about criminal offending in our communities, please contact Police on 105, or alternatively contact Crime Stoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.