INDEPENDENT NEWS

Operation Freya - Police And Customs Nab Over $8 Million Worth Of Drugs

Published: Fri 12 Nov 2021 04:52 PM
Police and Customs have this week dismantled a sophisticated drug dealing and
smuggling operation making 12 arrests and seizing $8 million worth of drugs
in the process.
Police and Customs have executed 11 search warrants in relation to Operation
Freya— a six-month-long investigation led by the newly established
Northland District Police Organised Crime Unit.
The operation was set up to investigate the smuggling of drugs from
international destinations, including Africa, and the subsequent sale and
supply in New Zealand. It stems from seizure information that Customs
regularly shares with Police, which showed that a number of drug packages
were destined for Northland.
Between March 2020 – June 2021, Customs intercepted 15 separate air cargo
or mail consignments, the drugs were found hidden in a range of concealments
such as books, clothing and framed art.
Search warrants took place across Northland including Morningside, Rāwhiti,
Ruakākā and Whananaki, as well as Rotorua.
Eleven men aged between 27 and 56, and a 25-year-old woman have been arrested
so far.
They are set to face a raft of serious drugs charges relating to the
importation, manufacturing, and supply of methamphetamine.
Other charges include conspiring to import methamphetamine, MDMA and
pseudoephedrine, as well as participating in an organised crime group.
Overall 17kg of methamphetamine, 5.44kg of MDMA and a kg of pseudoephedrine
were seized, which are worth a combined value of $8m in street value.
Those charged are set to appear in Whangārei District Court tomorrow, on 13
November. Further arrests cannot be ruled out at this stage.
Police have also restrained around $240,000 worth of assets, including a
motorbike, boat and vehicles, under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
Around $70,000 in cash, and a quantity of methamphetamine along with two
firearms and ammunition were also seized.
Detective Inspector Bridget Doell says the investigation identified an
alleged criminal syndicate based in Ruakākā, whose key leaders were in the
Headhunters Motorcycle Gang and Mongrel Mob organised criminal group.
“The syndicate’s offending spread across New Zealand and those arrested
today were allegedly involved in a variety of roles and levels of culpability
across this syndicate.
“Ultimately, they have allegedly tried to import, manufacture or on-sell
drugs into the Northland market, which currently has some of the highest drug
use per capita wastewater readings in New Zealand.”
Detective Inspector Doell says closing this operation down, has prevented
approximately $25 million worth of social harm across the Northland district
“Methamphetamine use is unfortunately a major driver of crime across the
Northland District. Drug users are known to commit high volume crimes - such
as car thefts, burglaries, and fraud – in a bid to fund their drug
habits.
“Criminal groups hurt communities by exploiting people's drug addictions
– profiting as they did so. They have little regard for the devastation or
harm caused to vulnerable people in our community who are addicted to drugs.
“Having a relative, friend, or neighbour who is addicted to methamphetamine
doesn't just affect them, it affects everyone around them, and the impact is
significant.”
Customs Group Manager Intelligence, Investigations & Enforcement Dana
McDonald says Customs continues to working closely with law enforcement
partners globally to disrupt the transnational movement and supply of
controlled drugs, and the harm this causes within our communities.
“Organised criminal groups may think that law enforcement doesn’t care
about small drug packages – but it all adds up, and it’s only matter of
time before they are held to account. In this case, we are pleased to have
worked with Police to share our specialist capabilities and expertise to do
just this.
“Customs actively targets all risk shipments – via sea, air or mail –
and is determined to work with our partners, both here and offshore, to make
maximum impact in dismantling the organised criminal groups that are
involved,” Mr McDonald says.
Police enforcement ultimately disrupts and reduces the distribution of
harmful drugs that our younger generation use.
“Police will continue to target those who illegally accumulate assets and
wealth through the sale of illicit drugs,” says Detective Inspector Doell.
“We want to help build resilient communities that thrive in the absence of
illicit drugs and drug-related offending.”
Detective Inspector Doell says the future focus for the district is to
encourage communities to come forward and seek assistance from agencies if
they have family members, loved ones involved in drug use, and criminal
activities.
Police encourage anyone with information about suspected drug dealing in
their community to contact 105, or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 0800 555
111.

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