Police have arrested 26 people as part of a major operation targeting the importation, production and supply of illegal drugs, and have seized 10 million dollars in assets, including commercial drug making equipment.
This week, more than 100 Police staff, including members of the Armed Offenders Squad, Police Dog Section and the Asset Recovery Unit, as well as Customs staff, carried out search warrants at a total of 34 properties throughout the wider Auckland region.
It’s all part of a seven-month long investigation – dubbed Operation Cincinnati – run by the National Organised Crime Group, with the assistance of New Zealand Customs.
The operation targeted a large scale drug syndicate and key players involved the importation of Class A and B drugs including methamphetamine and MDMA, and the production and sale of ecstasy pills.
Police allege the syndicate imported quantities of methamphetamine and MDMA into the country, and were responsible for producing large quantities of a particular type of pink ecstasy pill, known as “Pink Porsches”.
These pills were allegedly produced in bulk, then passed on to an extensive network of dealers who would sell the drug at various locations and temporary accommodation, before moving on and selling elsewhere.
The drugs were also allegedly transported to other districts and sold there.
Yesterday and this morning Police carried out 34 search warrants throughout the Auckland region, including in the suburbs of Kohimarama, St John, Auckland Central, Remuera, Kumeu and Westmere.
As part of those searches, Police located and seized two large commercial grade pill presses – machines used to produce pills in mass – capable of producing hundreds of ecstasy pills per day.
More than 20,000 of the Pink Porsche pills were also found.
National Organised Crime Group’s Acting Detective Inspector John Brunton says Police also located and seized 3kg of MDMA powder, 3kg of ephedrine, quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and other drugs.
Approximately $500,000 in cash was also located during the search warrants, along with a number illegal firearms, including three pistols.
Two shotguns and ammunition were also found.
Police also seized a number of assets and 8 luxury high end vehicles at the properties, including a 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista, worth more than $630,000 and a 2020 Porsche 911 Coupe, worth over $230,000.
A 2019 Audi Q8, two Ford Ranger Raptors, a Range Rover Sport and two Harley Davidson motorbikes were also restrained.
In total, Police seized over $1.2 million in vehicles alone.
The Asset Recovery Unit also restrained three properties, worth a total of $5.7 million.
A total of 26 people have been arrested as part of the operation, and face a number of drug related charges between them.
They are due to appear in the Auckland District Court over the coming days.
National Organised Crime Group’s Acting Detective Inspector John Brunton says the seizures and arrests a have disrupted a large scale drug network within New Zealand, and staff have worked tirelessly over the past seven-months to get to this result.
“By stripping this syndicate of the tools they use to produce the drugs, as well as the assets they obtained from such offending, we are effectively striking at the core of their business,” he says.
“We want to send a clear message that such criminal activity won’t be tolerated, and causes immeasurable harm in our communities – harm that we are committed to reducing.”
Police are unable to rule out the possibility of further arrests or charges being laid.