Police drug bust – seven arrests, $3.5m in assets seized

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Oct 2021, 6:36PM
A catamaran restrained in Wellington. (Photo / Supplied)
A catamaran restrained in Wellington. (Photo / Supplied)

Police drug bust – seven arrests, $3.5m in assets seized

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Oct 2021, 6:36PM

Assets totalling around $3.5 million have been seized by Police in a series of raids executed on a New Zealand drug and money laundering network.

The restrained assets include six properties, a catamaran, a yacht, a leisure boat, a jet ski, a motorbike and classic cars - all held under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.

Police executed 18 search warrants in relation to Operation Chestnut — a 10-month-long investigation led by the Manawatu Organised Crime Unit into the sale and supply of methamphetamine and associated offending in Tasman, Wellington, Central and Eastern Police districts.

The search warrants began in Wellington on Wednesday with the arrest of the alleged main offender, a 44-year-old man from Horowhenua with links to members of the Filthy Few, Hells Angels, Head Hunters, Black Power and Mongrel Mob.

He has been charged with 12 offences including possession of methamphetamine for supply, conspiring to deal methamphetamine, unlawful possession of a firearm, unlawful possession of a restricted weapon and money laundering.

He is scheduled to reappear in Wellington District Court on Thursday, November 4.
Yesterday, further search warrants were executed at properties in Horowhenua, Himatangi, Horopito, Marlborough Sounds and Wellington.

Cash located in dog food, Wellington. Photo / supplied

Cash located in dog food, Wellington. Photo / supplied

In Horowhenua, a significant marijuana-growing operation was located with 60 mature plants and 4kg of packaged cannabis.

The ready-to-sell cannabis is estimated to be worth about $40,000.

Three Tasman men — aged 44, 50, 53 — have been charged with drug-related offending, alongside a 36-year-old man, 54-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman from Horowhenua.

Firearms seized during Operation Chestnut. Photo / supplied

Firearms seized during Operation Chestnut. Photo / supplied

Nineteen firearms, methamphetamine and about $500,000 cash has also been seized.

Detective Inspector Paul Baskett says the long-running operation reflects Police's commitment to disrupting and dismantling drug networks.

"This was a complex network involving a number of people in a range of situations and locations throughout the central and lower North Island and upper South Island.

"This type of offending undermines the wellbeing of our communities creating significant social harm.

"Police will continue to target those who illegally accumulate assets and wealth through the sale of illicit drugs.

"We want to help build resilient communities that thrive in the absence of illicit drugs and drug-related offending."

Police encourage anyone with information about suspected drug dealing in their community to contact 105, or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.