Police crack down on organised crime in Tauranga

By Leah Te Whata
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A National Organised Crime Group branch has been launched in Tauranga to help tackle organised crime. 

It's the first office based outside of the main Auckland and Wellington centres. 

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says, "We're in the middle of a battle with organised crime.  We're absolutely determined to make our communities safe and we'll do everything we can to do it."

Australian motorcycle gangs will be a key target for the new police squad as members of the Comancheros and Bandidos were recently seen riding in the region.

Minister of Police Stuart Nash says, "You want to peddle drugs?  You want to be part of a gang?  You want to be involved in organised crime?  We're coming for your money.  We're coming for your assets, because we will not tolerate this in our communities in New Zealand."

Several gang members have been deported to New Zealand after failing the good character test in Australia, including one high profile member of the Rebels who now lives in Mt Maunganui. 

"The impact of some returning offenders does impact upon us.  There are a number of gangs that are growing in size that we are concerned about.  It's the sort of thing we want to nip in the bud before they take hold."

$20mil of cocaine was found in a ship docked at the port of Tauranga last November following an investigation by the Auckland branch of the National Organised Crime Group.

"[Tauranga has] a growing population base and one thing about organised crime is they're all about making a profit so they want to go where there is a good population of people so they can peddle their misery."

The six detectives in the team are to focus investigations solely on organised criminals, which often takes six to twelve months of covert surveillance.