Gang car search leads to meth arrest

By Mark Story, APNZ

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A Hastings gang member has had his 1959 Ford Fairlane impounded after being pulled over and caught with what is believed to be 20g of methamphetamine.

The 37-year-old was stopped in a routine traffic operation while driving the Fairlane about 8.45am through Raureka yesterday.

Police have charged the man with having methamphetamine and a meth pipe in the vehicle.

A police spokesperson said the man initially drove off at speed but was eventually pulled over in Cobham Place.

He ran off but was caught by officers at the scene.

The arrest came in the same day police announced nine people were detained and $300,000 of methamphetamine recovered in a North Island bust.

It's alleged the group had been manufacturing methamphetamine and supplying the Upper North Island, Auckland, Napier and as far south as Wellington.

The searches, conducted on properties in Auckland and Whangarei with the help of the Organised & Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), also recovered $154,000 in cash buried in a paddock on a property at Kaitaia as part of the three-month investigation dubbed Operation Enzone.

Three properties, including two farms in the far north and a property in Red Beach, Auckland, were seized on Monday and Tuesday this week along with a range of vehicles, including quad bikes, diggers and tractors, as well as farm equipment.

About $2 million in property and assets were also seized under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act.

The nine accused face multiple charges of manufacturing and supplying methamphetamine, participating in an organised criminal group and money laundering.

Detective Sergeant John Sowter of OFCANZ said the arrests were the culmination of some hard work by OFCANZ and police investigators.

"OFCANZ staff worked with police in Napier and the Far North in the operation," Mr Sowter said.

The mobster arrested in Hastings yesterday was charged with driving while disqualified, possession of methamphetamine for supply, possession of utensils and failing to remain stopped.

Detective Rob Parker said the Ford Fairlane had few identifying features, which made the issue of ownership "a bit confusing".

"It's been impounded for now so we'll just have to see if we can ascertain ownership at a later date," Mr Parker said.

The man would remain in custody by consent until his court appearance next week.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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