Hells Angels arrested over disappearing deer

Five Hells Angels members and four associates have been arrested after allegedly "plundering'' deer from a state forest in Auckland.

Police arrested the nine men after carrying out search warrants simultaneously on a number of Auckland properties after an ongoing investigation.

Five of the men were members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Gang and four were associates.

Members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Gang had allegedly been sneaking into Woodhill Forest in Auckland at night to shoot deer roaming the park, said Detective Inspector Grant Wormald of the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ).

The accused had been going in in the middle of the night and allegedly plundering [the herd of deer] basically, he said. "The park estimates up to 60 animals have been shot in the last 12 months.''

He said the forest was a public reserve used by trampers, mountain bikers and recreational hunters and was the subject of strict safety rules.

"Hunting is only allowed through a carefully managed ballot system in an area cleared of people for a short period each year. Other than that nobody should be in there at all with a firearm.''

The men had allegedly been illegally hunting without permits or firearms licenses. Seven firearms had been seized today, he said.

North Shore police had been logging multiple calls about the illegal hunting, he said.

The arrested men will appear in North Shore District Court this afternoon at 2:15pm.

They have been charged with intentional damage, commission of a crime while in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm except for some lawful, proper and sufficient purpose, said police.

Police also carried out search warrants in New Plymouth, including a search of the Magogs Headquarters in Ngamotu. One man was arrested, and had a "close relationship'' with the Hells Angels in Auckland, said Mr Wormald.

This operation is a continuation of investigations by OFCANZ, police and other agencies, to disrupt a wide range of criminal activities by the Hells Angels over the past two and a half years.

"A number of Hells Angels gang members from around New Zealand have been prosecuted or are now on active charges ranging from possession and supply of methamphetamine to robbery, burglary and extortion,'' said Mr Wormald.

``Our goal is to investigate the crimes they are committing and disrupt their activities to the extent that it's very hard for them to operate at all,'' Detective Wormald said.

- APNZ

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