30 arrested, $2 million in assets seized in Bay of Plenty drug raid

Police have seized over $2 million in assets following a major raid of illicit drugs in the Bay of Plenty.
Police have seized over $2 million in assets following a major raid of illicit drugs in the Bay of Plenty. Photo credit: Getty

Police have seized over $2 million in assets and arrested 30 people after a major raid of illicit drugs in a crackdown on organised crime in the Bay of Plenty. 

Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Kevin Taylor says across the Kawerau, Whakatane and Opotiki districts police executed 34 search warrants and seized residential property, cars and boats on Tuesday. 

Twenty-six firearms and a haul of methamphetamine and cannabis were also seized, he says.

The investigation targeted members and associates of the Kawerau Mongrel Mob and their distribution of illicit drugs across the districts. 

He says those who were arrested will appear in the Whakatane and Tauranga District Courts on a number of drug charges - including supplying, possession for supplying and conspiracy to supply meth and cannabis. 

The retail value for the methamphetamine that was allegedly sold into the community was worth $2.6 million, he says. 

"The monetary value is significant but the social cost is much higher - we know meth is a driver of crime in our community, and we are committed to holding these suppliers to account and preventing harm in our community."

Police are working with iwi and other agencies to support children that were exposed to drug violence at the addresses that were visited on Tuesday.

Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell says a lot of this has arisen after "frustration from the community".

"The community of Kawerau have come out in support of police... we 100 percent support them, we don't want this happening in our community.

"It's time this country woke up to the bullshit that's going on around here and deal with some of these gangs - they're the ones you've got to start looking at."

He says as a community leader, he will be taking responsibility there and meet with local mayors to address the issue.

"We've seen it escalate in the last 12 months - and when you've got young kids walking around fried out of their heads, it's not good and were picking up the pieces.

"We see the downside of meth and not only meth but other drugs too and gang related incidents, we pick up the social side of it and it hasn't been great to be honest."

Tuwharetoa Health Education and Social Services Trust Chief Executive Chris Marjoribanks says it needs to significantly look at how it provides support systems for people.

"Unless we step in... we will see this current regime replaced over time, but we have to use the opportunity to provide education and support for families to make change," he says.

"There will be people out there that weren't picked up today.

Education, training and support across both the health and education sectors is needed in order for eliminate this problem, Mr Marjoribanks added.