Twenty-six arrested in major drug bust operation, millions in assets seized

Twenty-six arrested in major drug bust operation, millions in assets seized
Photo credit: Supplied / Police

Twenty-six people have been arrested as part of a major operation targetting the importation, production and supply of illegal drugs, including ecstasy pills, meth and cocaine.

Officers have also seized assets in excess of $10 million after carrying out search warrants across 34 properties in the wider Auckland region this week.

Most of the individuals arrested are Auckland-based, but the network spread throughout New Zealand.

As part of the operation, a large quantity of drugs including methamphetamine, MDMA along with commercial grade drug making equipment, illegal firearms, and millions of dollars’ worth of assets including high-end vehicles, were restrained.

About $600,000 in cash was found with the drugs. More than 20,000 ecstasy pills were seized.

Among the high-end vehicles were Ferraris and Porches.

More than 100 police staff were involved in the operation, which is codenamed Operation Cincinnati. That includes officers from the Armed Offenders Squad, dog section, the asset recovery and money laundering team, and NZ Customs.

National Organised Crime Group's Acting Detective Inspector John Brunton said the result was "very satisfying". 

He believes the operation will impact the New Zealand drug scene. The syndicate has gang associations, but "really worked outside that framework", he said.

The distribution network had a lot of younger people involved, Brunton said. Many hadn't come to the attention of the police before.

"The distribution network got bigger and bigger. I guess there is a lure of easy money there sometimes."