INDEPENDENT NEWS

Police Deal Multi-million Dollar Blow To Organised Criminal Syndicate

Published: Fri 31 May 2024 12:33 PM
Police have uprooted a significant cannabis operation worth up to $15 million, concealed in parts of rural southern Auckland.
This week, search warrants were executed at rural sites in Āwhitu, Runciman and Glenbrook with nine arrests made so far under Operation Manta Ray.
Counties Manukau South Area Investigations Manager, Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Taylor, says the operation was utilising former sites used as market gardens.
“We believe the set-up, particularly in Āwhitu, is likely one of the largest we have come across within the Counties Manukau Police district,” he says.
“This enforcement action has caused a considerable dent and there is no doubt this will have an impact on organised crime as a result.”
Police are continuing to target illicit drug operations on commercial scales such as those identified this week.
“Large-scale cultivation of drugs is a large source of income for gangs and organised crime groups,” Detective Senior Sergeant Taylor says.
“We will continue to target such operations given they are funding organised criminal groups’ operations, which in turn means harm continues to be imposed on our communities.”
The numbers in Operation Manta Ray highlight the scale of this particular group’s operation.
In Āwhitu, more than two tonnes of cannabis plant at varying maturity levels were located alone.
Āwhitu: More than 4,300 plants destroyed Runciman: More than 150 plants destroyed Glenbrook: More than 1000 plants destroyed Detective Senior Sergeant Taylor says four Vietnamese nationals were arrested at Āwhitu.
A further five Vietnamese nationals were arrested at the site in Glenbrook.
All those charged are men aged between 29 and 40.
Six of those arrested are facing charges of cultivating cannabis and are before the Pukekohe District Court.
Police have been working alongside Immigration New Zealand in relation to the remaining three arrested during the operation.
Detective Senior Sergeant Taylor says he acknowledges the work of investigators attached to Counties Manukau South CIB.
“This week’s operation was also ably supported by our Organised Crime Unit, communities staff based in Tuakau and Waiuku, as well as other Police resources from the region.”
Police continue to acknowledge the support by the public around information on illegal operations within their community.
“We continue to encourage the community to continue providing us this information on any such concerns they may have,” Detective Senior Sergeant Taylor says.
“This can be through regular 105 channels or anonymously through Crime Stoppers.”

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