Police have arrested eight people and disrupted plans to import hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into the country from Mexico.
This morning Police, along with New Zealand Customs Service, carried out search warrants at eleven properties throughout the wider Bay of Plenty, Northland and Auckland areas as part of Operation Tarpon.
The operation, run by the National Organised Crime Group (NOCG), has targeted key players of a drug syndicate operating in New Zealand with links to a Mexican cartel.
It’s alleged those involved conspired to import a large quantity of cocaine and methamphetamine into New Zealand via shipping containers.
It’s also alleged some of the group imported a smaller quantity of cocaine from their central American contacts by courier mail to sell and distribute in our communities.
Today’s arrests are the culmination of an eight month investigation by detectives, who began investigating the group back in September 2020.
This morning 10 properties were searched, including addresses in Rotorua, Te Kaha, Te Puke, Omokoroa, Mount Albert and Auckland CBD. Police also searched a boat moored in Northland.
More than 100 Police and Customs staff, including members of the Armed Offenders Squad, Dog Section, Specialist Search Group, the Police Clandestine Laboratory Team and Bay of Plenty and Northland district staff, were involved in the warrants.
Eight men have been arrested and face multiple drugs related charges, including Conspiracy to Import a Class A Controlled Drug, Importing a Class A Controlled Drug, Conspiracy to Manufacture Methamphetamine and Possession for Supply.
The group, aged between 26 and 62, included two patched members of the Rotorua chapter of the Filthy Few Motorcycle Club. All are due to appear in the Tauranga District Court over the coming days.
National Organised Crime Group’s Acting Detective Inspector John Brunton says this investigation is another example of Police working collaboratively with New Zealand Customs to prevent the devastating harm created by the sale and supply of illicit drugs.
“In this case, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated investigation team who worked around the clock, we were able to identify and disrupt this syndicate’s plans before the drug shipment reached New Zealand shores,” he says.
“We want to send a clear message that those importing or dealing such drugs will be found out, will be arrested and prosecuted.”
Police cannot rule out further arrests as the Police investigation is ongoing.
As there are now people before the court, Police are not able to comment further.