Major Headhunters drug bust

By John Weekes

A major drug bust on the Headhunters' Auckland headquarters saw police recover more than $1 million worth of methamphetamine yesterday.

Eight suspected gang members were arrested and appeared in Waitakere District Court charged with drug possession and supply offences.

Court officials refused to reveal anything more about the appearances but the suspects have been ordered to reappear tomorrow. It came just hours after 240 police and Air Force personnel uncovered a "warehouse" full of weapons in a raid on the emerging Red Devils gang in Nelson.

A police spokeswoman said 28 people were arrested, and pipe bombs, motorbikes, shotguns and rifles confiscated.

Police said the operation had dealt a blow to the gang, who are affiliated to the Hells Angels.

Air Force personnel flew police from the North Island to Nelson. The Air Force also put their bomb disposal unit on standby. The spokeswoman said a complex and committed undercover operation helped bust the Red Devils.

"We had one of our own embedded in their organisation. We were listening in to their most intimate conversations," the spokeswoman said.

The raids were said to be unrelated to those on the Auckland Headhunters, though police have been co-ordinating many anti-gang efforts at a national level.

Two suspects appeared in the Nelson District Court on Friday and were bailed. The spokeswoman said these two were "bit-part players".

A further 17 suspects appeared yesterday and were remanded in custody.

The spokeswoman described those arrested as "a motley crew" ranging in age from about 30 to their late 50s.

Police say they are conscious of the fact other aspiring gangsters may fill the void created by the mass arrests, so their focus will "now turn to like-minded groups".

One of those groups are apparent Red Devils allies the Hells Angels, the world's oldest and biggest bikie gang.

Police continued tormenting the Angels yesterday afternoon, shadowing an Angels poker run in the scenic Tasman region. While police appeared pleased with the poker run operation, it was largely a symbolic gesture, with no reported arrests.

Another gang police seem to be watching closely are the Rebel Motorcycle Club, recent arrivals from Australia.

The Rebels' entry into local gang life attracted publicity in January, when Police Minister Judith Collins and a senior detective from the Organised and Financial Crime Agency publicly threatened to annihilate the Rebels.

Police followed up her rhetoric quickly when guns, bikes, cars, drugs, cash and gang patches were seized from the Rebels in raids in February.

This week's Upper South Island raids were bigger still.

The police spokeswoman says these clampdowns are "a clear indication" of hardened police resolve in tackling organised crime.

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