North Island drug bust: 20 arrested, property and cannabis seized in major police operation

One of the vehicle's seized.
One of the vehicle's seized. Photo credit: Supplied/New Zealand Police

A significant drug and organised crime network has been terminated by police in the North Island, leading to the arrests of 20 people.

Police said on Wednesday 163 officers had seized residential properties, vehicles, firearms, cash, and cannabis after 23 search warrants were executed in Taupō, Hamilton, and Rotorua after six months of dedicated investigation.

A police statement said all those arrested are due to appear in the Rotorua District Court on Thursday, charged with cannabis cultivation and supply and participation in an organised crime group, while some are also facing firearms-related charges.

"Property restrained by an order issued from the High Court today [Wednesday] includes three residential houses, five vehicles including two classic cars, nine Harley Davidson motorcycles, a jet ski, jewellery, and more than $100,000 cash."

Police said 3450 cannabis plants were seized, valued at about $3.2 million.

"We know that greed is driving these offenders who have been operating in an organised and sophisticated way to spread harm in our communities," said Rotorua area commander Insp Phil Taikato. "They push drugs onto vulnerable users and suck money and resources out of some of our most deprived communities."

Of those charged, 12 have been remanded in custody.

Anyone with information about similar offending is urged to contact the police non-emergency number on 105 or Crimstoppers on 0800 555 111.