Nearly $700k to be forfeited to Crown following Wellington Mongrel Mob inquiry

Cash and methamphetamine seized by police during the investigation.
Cash and methamphetamine seized by police during the investigation. Photo credit: Supplied

A total of $692,461.60 is to be forfeited to the Crown following an investigation into the dealing of methamphetamine in Porirua.

Following an investigation in 2017 into the sale and supply of methamphetamine, three people associated with the Mongrel Mob were convicted in the Wellington High Court between April 1, 2021 and April 20, 2021.

The operation saw Wellington's Central Asset Recovery Unit run a simultaneous Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act (CPRA) enquiry alongside the criminal investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Fischer of the Central Asset Recovery Unit Wellington said in a statement on Friday.

A search warrant at a Porirua property in March 2017 found senior patched Mongrel Mob leader, Mack Charles Hunt, and his wife, Fern Hine Puhitai Tawhai, in possession of 94.6 grams of methamphetamine, $40,594 in cash and firearms.

Six months later, Tawhai was stopped by police as she drove through Porirua. During a search of her vehicle, officers discovered and seized $249,950 in cash.

In April 2021, Hunt was convicted of possession of methamphetamine for supply and unlawful possession of firearms, receiving a sentence of four months' community detention and nine months' supervision. 

Tawhai was convicted for money laundering, the possession of methamphetamine for supply, and attempting to pervert the course of justice. She also received four months' community detention and nine months' supervision. 

A third person, Porirua man Kurt Adam Thomas, was also convicted in May 2021 for perverting the course of justice after he attempted to disguise the ownership of the cash located in Tawhai's vehicle.

He received a sentence of 80 hours' community work and five months' supervision.

Police sought from the High Court in Wellington the forfeiture of $692,461.60 pursuant to the CPRA. This amount included cash totalling $291,681.59.

The intention of the CPRA is to prevent, disrupt and deter crime, denying criminals the opportunity to benefit from their offending, and reduce their ability to re-invest in criminal activity.

A judgement in favour of the Crown was released by the Wellington High Court on August 27, 2021, agreeing the seized cash was tainted by virtue of being derived from the significant criminal activity of methamphetamine sales.

In addition to the seized cash, police calculated the offenders had profited from the sale of meth to the tune of $400,780.01 during the relevant period.

This profit was included in the overall amount to be forfeited to the Crown.

Two vehicles belonging to Hunt and Tawhai were also forfeited.

"This is another example of police successfully targeting organised crime, and the harm they cause the community," Det Snr Sgt Fischer says.

"Police are united with the community, working hard to remove methamphetamine and recover criminal proceeds from organised crime figures.

"Targeting criminal groups like the Mongrel Mob has a direct effect on the supply of drugs in our community; the seizure of cash and benefits derived from this drug activity sends the message police are working collectively with the community to prevent the harm caused by methamphetamine, preventing it from destroying our homes and families."

Police encourage anyone with information about criminal activity to contact them on the 105 number, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.