Ten people have been arrested and face charges after up to $5 million worth of drugs were seized in a police operation targeting methamphetamine and other drugs being imported into New Zealand.
Detective Inspector Paul Newman says in excess of a million dollars in cash, several high end vehicles and guns – including a military style rifle – were also seized.
Police say a “key player” living overseas was targeted in Operation Mystic, run by the National Organised Crime Group and New Zealand Customs.
“A New Zealand man [who] has allegedly been operating overseas since 2016, sending drugs to associates back here via multiple countries and using a variety of ways to conceal the drugs,” was arrested on the Italian border on February 2, police say.
A formal extradition process to bring the 31-year-old man back to New Zealand is underway. He will face 94 charges on serious drug dealing, money laundering and participating in an organised criminal group.
Police have also arrested six of his alleged associates living in New Zealand after search warrants were carried out throughout the wider Auckland region last week.
Three others alleged to also be part of the syndicate were arrested late last year.
Search warrants were carried out at 11 properties in Auckland central, Henderson, Wairau Valley, West Harbour, Takanini, Waterview and Beach Haven.
Ten people aged between 28 and 57, have been arrested and will face multiple charges including money laundering and participating in an organised crime group.
They include Chilean, Italian, Brazilian and Filipino nationals.
Nine have appeared in the Auckland District Court and are expected to reappear in the coming months.
This investigation remains ongoing and at this stage, Police cannot rule out the possibility of further seizures and arrests.