Police have dismantled a sophisticated drug dealing and money laundering operation spanning the North Island, with eight arrests and more than $6.5 million in assets restrained in the process.
Ten search warrants were executed as part of Operation Bush, a 9-month investigation led by the Upper North Money Laundering Team into the sale and supply of cannabis and associated offending.
Police allege the syndicate was operating across the Northland, Waitematā, Auckland City, Counties Manukau and Waikato Police districts.
“As a result of the warrants terminated today, nearly $6.5 million worth of assets were restrained, including five properties, and two vehicles with a combined value of $90,000,” said Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew Dunhill, Officer in Charge, Upper North Money Laundering Team.
“Several significant cannabis grows were located with 193 plants and approximately nine kilograms of packaged cannabis seized.
“The ready-to-sell cannabis seized from just one of the addresses is estimated to be worth about $60,000,” he said.
Today’s arrests included the alleged kingpin of the operation, a 40-year-old man from Waitematā, who is believed to be linked to a Vietnamese organised crime group.
“Seven other people, including some foreign nationals, have been arrested and charged in relation to serious offending spanning over a number of years,” said Det Snr Sgt Dunhill.
In total, more than 60 charges have been filed relating to money laundering and the cultivation, supply, and selling of cannabis.
The eight people arrested today are due to appear in Whangārei, North Shore, Auckland and Waikato District Courts over the coming days.
Police say they cannot rule out further charges and arrests as part of Operation Bush.
“This is a significant restraint of millions of dollars’ worth of property and vehicles, which has involved New Zealand Police staff from several workgroups, and highlights the ongoing work by Police to disrupt and dismantle this type of damaging offending in our country,” Det Snr Sgt Dunhill said.
“Drugs continue to be at the centre of a world of harm created in our communities and we have no tolerance for those who continue to accumulate assets and wealth through the sale of these illicit substances.
“We continue to encourage anyone with information about suspected money laundering and drug dealing in their community to contact 105, or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111,” he said.