INDEPENDENT NEWS

Gang’s Distinctive Motorcycles Destroyed Following Court Order

Published: Sun 25 Feb 2024 11:04 AM
• Six motorcycles that belonged to the Comanchero Motorcycle Gang have been turned into scrap metal
• The six distinctive Harley Davidsons were seized during Operation Nova in 2019
• It’s the first time Police have sought such an order under legislation
• Excluding motorcycles, $2.6 million in assets were restrained from the gang in the operation
• Operation Nova saw 18 people charged with a variety of serious offences
Six distinctive motorcycles that were once prized possessions of the Comanchero Motorcycle gang have been destroyed.
A recent court order gave Police the green light to crush the gold-plated Harley Davidson motorcycles, along with numerous personalised plates, and sell the remains as scrap metal.
Commissioner Andrew Coster says the application by Police was under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act in early 2023 and is the first of its kind.
The bikes were seized in April 2019 as part of a major organised crime operation, Operation Nova.
Across multiple phases in the investigation, Police honed its efforts into targeting senior leadership figures of the gang and its illegal activities.
“At the time Police made numerous arrests, and restrained around $4 million in assets from the gang, which included the six distinctive Harley Davidson motorcycles,” Commissioner Coster says.
“It is part of an ongoing focus by Police on disrupting the illegal activities of organised criminal groups, along with targeting assets they have obtained through their offending.”
Late last year, the Court approved Police’s application to destroy six Harley Davidson motorbikes and seven personalised licence plates.
In other investigations, the Financial Crime Group has successfully submitted to a court for the forfeiture of assets with the proceeds going to the consolidated crime fund.
However, in the case of Operation Nova, the distinctive Harley Davidsons and personalised plates meant a different approach has been taken, Commissioner Coster says.
It’s the first time New Zealand Police has applied to take this sort of action with restrained assets.
“It is our view that the design of the motorcycles, and the personalised plates, are very distinctive and are exclusively linked to the Comancheros,” Commissioner Coster says.
“It is highly likely both the bikes and licence plates would end up back in the hands of the Comancheros.
“It would defeat the purpose of the action Police have taken in this investigation.”
Around $2.6 million of assets, excluding the motorcycles, were restrained as a result of action taken in Operation Nova.
This month, a former secretary of the Comancheros who was convicted as part of Operation Nova was successfully deported back to Australia.
“It will be of some reassurance to Police and the public that this decision means these bikes, purchased with the proceeds of crime, will not end up back in the wrong hands.”
All six bikes, and the plates were destroyed on Friday and proceeds from any scrap metal sales will go toward the consolidated fund as standard practice.
OPERATION NOVA:
By the numbers:
6 - Harley Davidson motorcycles destroyed $96,000 – Approximate value of motorcycles $2,620,000 – total value of assets restrained 18 – people charged under Operation Nova
Assets restrained include:
• $402,360 cash • 4 Range Rover Sport • 1 Rolls-Royce Wraith • High end Mercedes-Benz and Audi vehicles • Designer products and jewellery • Property in Auckland Charges laid include: • Participating in an organised crime group • Importing methamphetamine • Conspiracy to import methamphetamine • Conspiracy to supply methamphetamine • Conspiracy to supply Class B controlled drug • Possession of cocaine for supply • Money laundering • Unlawful possession of firearms • Unlawful possession of ammunition

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