The raid on Head Hunter boss Wayne Doyle is the latest battle in a targeted police strategy against the gang.

Freezing $6 million of property from Head Hunters' boss Wayne Doyle is seen as the pinnacle of a sustained police war on the motorcycle gang.

No criminal charges have been laid against Doyle, 62, who has kept out of courtrooms for nearly 20 years.

Now the police will allege his wealth was "criminally derived" and Doyle, the president of the East Chapter, will need to prove he paid for the property legitimately.

However, the raid on the gang's Ellerslie headquarters on Monday should not be viewed in isolation.

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Police have restrained $6 million of property linked to Head Hunter president Wayne Doyle. Photo/NZ Herald.
Police have restrained $6 million of property linked to Head Hunter president Wayne Doyle. Photo/NZ Herald.

Over the past three years, the Auckland-based Head Hunters have been specifically targeted in at least 12 police investigations across the country.

Guns, drugs, cars, cash - even stolen Star Wars figures - have been seized in Northland, Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua, Wairarapa, Wellington, Nelson and as far south as Christchurch.

This has been a deliberate nationwide strategy to tackle the gang, which has aggressively expanded in numbers and geographic locations in recent years.

"The gang were seen as controlling the methamphetamine market and getting stronger. Their numbers went 'woosh'," said Chris Cahill, the president of the Police Association.

"There has definitely been, without doubt, a concerted, targeted attack on the Head Hunters."

The first of these was Operation Genoa in May 2014.

A senior member of the East Chapter, David Gerrard O'Carroll, was arrested after a covert investigation into methamphetamine manufacturing.

Millions of dollars of assets were seized including $2 million cash, luxury cars including a Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati, as well as gold and silver bars.

Detectives also found a machine to forge driver licences and dozens of fake IDs.

The aliases were used to rent storage facilities to hide the cash and cars, set up bank accounts and safety deposit boxes, obtain a false passport and purchase property.

"So when the police come along, they're hoping that we don't find out about the false identity and take the assets," Detective Inspector Bruce Good told the Herald in 2014.

"It's one way of trying to get around the asset forfeiture laws.''

Despite the leading gang member's lengthy criminal history - including previous convictions for methamphetamine manufacture - O'Carroll was released on bail to a different address.

Around $2 million cash was seized during Operation Genoa. Photo/NZ Herald.
Around $2 million cash was seized during Operation Genoa. Photo/NZ Herald.

Six months later, police found another $1 million cash at the second address.

There was $900,000 hidden in a bed frame, the balance in a wardrobe. Detectives also returned to the other property where he was first arrested.

There, a cache of 14 stolen firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition were discovered in a secret bunker under the kitchen.

"I must have walked over it 20 times before we found it," Detective Sergeant John Sowter said last year.

"It was hidden under a tile in the floor. The grouting must have been replaced every time they went in there."

A dozen of the weapons, mainly shotguns, were traced to a burglary of a gun collector in Bucklands Beach a few months earlier.

O'Carroll is now serving 16 years and five months in prison after being found guilty of cooking about 2kg of the Class-A drug.

The jury was unaware the man in the dock was one of the most senior members of the East Chapter of the Head Hunters.

"It seems ironic that O'Carroll is proud as punch to don his patch, flash his tattoos and ride his Harley around town with all his other criminal mates," said Sowter.

"But when it comes to court he cowers away from his involvement with the gang."

Following Genoa, was Operation Easter.

Police were told members of the Head Hunters' East Chapter in Auckland were running a P lab in Northland.

Investigating the tip in Waiotira, in rural Northland, without tipping off the targets, posed its own unique challenges.

"It's a small rural community, everybody knows everybody," said Detective Senior Sergeant Lloyd Schmid earlier this year.

"We needed to be careful how we moved in that community, who we might ask for assistance and the ongoing maintenance issue looking after our equipment."

By equipment, Schmid means two covert motion-activated cameras which captured who was coming and going.

Nearly every day, over the course of the five-month inquiry, Schmid said there was a strict routine.

The P cooks would arrive around 7am and work until lunchtime, have a short break, then keep working until around 6pm.

"In terms of how they went about their business, I could only describe that as very regimented," said Mr Schmid.

"In my career, I would say this is one of the most professionally run clan labs I have seen."

The entire house was stripped bare to house the chemicals and lab equipment need to cook massive amounts of the Class-A drug.

The word "factory" was used deliberately by Justice Simon Moore when sentencing the ringleader, patched Head Hunter Brownie Harding, in April.

"Its sole purpose was to provide a clandestine environment to accommodate your sophisticated and well-equipped laboratory to manufacture massive quantities of methamphetamine."

He was sentenced to 28 1/2 years in prison and will serve at least 10 years before being eligible for parole.

While Harding was the undisputed "boss" of the Northland operation, said Justice Moore, there was evidence he answered to someone higher up the chain in Auckland.

In one unforgettable conversation bugged by police, Harding was "incandescent with rage" after some of the drugs leaked out of the manufacturing apparatus and was lost.

He talked about having to explain a $200,000 loss "down in Auckland".

In May, Schmid said manufacturing methamphetamine was a money-making business and the Head Hunters were at the forefront of the lucrative enterprise.

He had "no doubt" Harding was answering to more senior members of the gang, who were able to pull strings and "reap the rewards".

"There are a few key players behind the scenes. The Head Hunters have expanded and have a significant number of members now, able to task to run clan labs like this," said Schmid.

"And they work just as hard, if not harder, in their criminal endeavours as you or I do in regular employment. The shame of it is if they applied themselves in regular employment, I'm sure they'd be successful."

In a late twist in Operation Easter, police were listening in when Brownie Harding rang the gang pad in Ellerslie wanting to speak with "Bird".

"Bird" is William Hines, one of the most senior Head Hunters in the East Chapter.

The 64-year-old Hines was jailed this year for 18 1/2 years for manufacturing P after a third, separate investigation, Operation Sylvester.

"Bird" has a long and colourful criminal history, including a stint in prison for the Head Hunters' first foray into cooking P back in the late 1990s.

But he kept out of trouble until the start of 2015, when the police started a covert investigation targeting Hines and his underlings.

Hines was in charge of the methamphetamine ring, giving orders but leaving the others to do his "dirty work" in order to keep his hands clean.

Other Head Hunters and associates arranged the equipment and ingredients needed for the actual manufacture of the Class A drug.

On just one "cook", the group obtained 20 "sets" of pseudoephedrine - enough to produce more than 1kg of methamphetamine.

At one point during the covert surveillance, police raided a storage unit linked to the group.

They found a van, with an internal cage and heavy-duty locks.

Inside detectives found 9kg of iodine and 33L of hypophosphorous acid - used in the cooking process - as well as 150g of P separated into ounces.

These are commonly sold for $12,000 each.

Alongside the drugs was a cache of high-powered military-style rifles and a Smith & Wesson revolver.

"Sinister" was how the sentencing judge described the discovery.

Three separate investigations, three senior members of the East Chapter of the Head Hunters serving long jail sentences.

"These operations show the Head Hunters are at the very heart of methamphetamine manufacture in this country," said Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, the head of the National Organised Crime Group.

"We did target them - and will continue to target them and other gangs - in order to stop them from harming the community. And we make no apologies for that."