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Gang members arrested in police op

By Alison King

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Grant Keys, Rotorua Senior Constable, at a checkpoint set up in the City Focus during Operation Presence. Photo/Ben Fraser
Grant Keys, Rotorua Senior Constable, at a checkpoint set up in the City Focus during Operation Presence. Photo/Ben Fraser

Five patched gang members were arrested on drugs charges and a rifle allegedly was found at one property in a large operation aimed at increasing police presence in Rotorua.

Operation Presence, held across the city this week, included 243 drivers stopped at checkpoints and 22 victims of crime visited to help prevent them becoming victims again.

The operation had an emphasis on family violence and alcohol. Rotorua police Inspector Ed Van Den Broek said police intervened in a family violence matter while at a checkpoint in the CBD.

One of the 243 drivers tested was over the drink-drive limit. Two people were forbidden to drive and three drivers had their licences suspended. Three vehicles were impounded.

Mr Van Den Broek said five people had been arrested on drugs charges, all patched gang members.

One of the accused was charged over possession of a Class A drug for supply, two for cultivation of cannabis in their homes, another for possession of a Class A drug and a fifth for possession of three Department of Conservation radios.

Mr Van Den Broek said a large quantity of cash, stolen property and a rifle were found during the operation.

"We've had some really pleasing results. The staff enjoyed it as well. When we conduct operations like this we get lots of staff together, working hard.

"We'd love to do it every day but we can't. The operation takes a while to put together, especially search warrants ... It's a balance of this with our business-as-usual work."

The youth and community section worked with 22 victims during the course of the operation day, on Tuesday.

"We've had a very positive reaction," said Senior Sergeant Denton Grimes. "The victims were appreciative of these follow-up visits.

"At the end of the day it's about them not becoming a victim again. By putting these plans in place and continued follow-ups by police then hopefully that will happen."

Police were joined by Maatua Whangai, Rotorua's oldest Maori social services agency, to help develop plans for victims.

Mr Grimes said the 22 had been victims of theft, burglary, assault or family violence. They had all been targeted at least twice in the past six months.

They were given crime-prevention advice, and opportunities to work with community agencies, such as Maatua Whangai, were discussed.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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