A police operation targeting the manufacturing and distribution of synthetic cannabis and money laundering has resulted in nine arrests this morning – eight in Tauranga and one in West Auckland.
Police this morning conducted search warrants at multiple properties in Tauranga, Papamoa, Mt Maunganui and West Auckland.
Multiple kilograms of synthetic cannabis were located and those arrested will face a significant number of charges relating to manufacturing a psychoactive substance, possessing a psychoactive substance for supply, selling a psychoactive substance, and money laundering.
Officers also located firearms at two of the properties searched – a rifle and a sawn-off shotgun, says Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Pritchard, National Organised Crime Group.
One of the nine people arrested has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm as a result.
Police Asset Recovery staff have also restrained assets under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act which include a residential property in Tauranga, multiple motor vehicles (including a Hummer, motorcycle and jet ski, pictured), and $18,000 in cash.
The value of assets restrained is about $500,000.
"Those arrested are alleged to have been involved in the manufacture of synthetic substances and supply and distribution to local communities and across the greater North Island.
"This operation demonstrates Police’s commitment to the combatting the manufacture and sale of synthetic drugs within our communities and preventing the immense social harm they cause," says Nick.
Under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 it is an offence to manufacture, possess and supply synthetic substances.
Synthetic cannabis causes significant harm to users and communities and today’s arrests are a positive step toward holding those responsible for manufacture, supply and distribution accountable for their behaviour.
The restraint of significant assets today also demonstrate our intent to address the proceeds of crime associated with criminal activity, says Nick.
Operation Fauna was launched in February this year by the new National Organised Crime Group Tauranga team and today’s termination involved approximately 80 staff.
Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is urged to contact their local Police station, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.