$4.4 million seized and 93 arrests: How police used the coronavirus lockdown to tackle New Zealand's gangs

There were 93 arrests made, $4.4 million seized and 14 drug labs uncovered in a crackdown on organised crime during alert levels 3 and 4, New Zealand Police have revealed.

The arrests have resulted in more than 250 charges, most of which relate to the manufacture and supply of meth, supply of cannabis and MDMA, possession of firearms and ammunition, and breaching court bail.

In a press release, police say they used the COVID-19 lockdown period to target a range of gangs, including the Comancheros, Mongrel Mob, Black Power, Nomads, Headhunters, Rebels, King Cobras, Tribesmen and Mongols.

They have also executed more than 100 search warrants and seized 43 firearms, 25kg of meth, 30kg of cannabis and small amounts of other drugs in the organised crime sting.

"New Zealand Police continues to hold organised criminals accountable even through this challenging time," said Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, National Manager: National Organised Crime Group.

"The illicit activities these groups take part in cause immeasurable harm in our communities."

As well as the seizure of drugs, the 14 clandestine laboratories located also turned up expensive chemicals and equipment relating to the manufacturing of meth and $1.2 million in cash.

Over $4.4 million in criminal proceeds has been forfeited, police say, most of which related to drug crime. Another $2 million is restrained and subject to further investigation before being forfeited.

Police say they have been observing coronavirus protocol even while carrying out major drug busts like Operation Nestegg, which saw five arrests and the seizure of cash, meth and weapons in Auckland and Tokoroa earlier this month.

Shortly before the shift from alert level 4 to 3, police issued a stern warning to gang members who flouted the Government's regulations.

Waikato Police's Detective Sergeant Andrew Saunders said there had been several incidents over the last week of the level 4 lockdown in which gang members had broken Government restrictions or the law.

"Our message to those select few who don't believe the rules apply to them is clear - if we continue to find you blatantly breaching the restrictions and the law, you will be arrested and prosecuted," he said.