By Beck Vass
A "dangerous" patched gang member wanted in connection with drugs and firearms-related offences is on the loose in Tauranga and should not be approached, police say.
Police are calling for sightings from anyone who has seen or knows the whereabouts of Raymond Whare, 43, an active member of the Mongrel Mob's Te Puke chapter.
Acting Senior Sergeant Darryl Brazier said Whare was the driver of a car which was allegedly found containing a methamphetamine laboratory, $40,000 and a "significant quantity" of class A drugs, believed to be methamphetamine and LSD in Grace Rd, Tauranga, on July 19.
Police stopped the car after a call by a member of the public who reported erratic driving. They found one of its occupants was wanted on an arrest warrant for breaching his parole.
That man ran away but was arrested soon after and was charged with possession of a 9mm pistol and breaching parole following the incident.
He was to reappear in Tauranga District Court on August 4, when an extra eight or nine drugs and firearms charges would be laid in relation to the Class A drugs allegedly found in the car and the suspected methamphetamine laboratory, Mr Brazier said.
The man has denied a charge of breaching his parole.
Mr Brazier said police spoke to Whare at the scene but he was released without charge as police focused on dealing with the threat posed by the other man.
However, after further inquiries police intended to lay firearms and drugs charges against him too. On searching the car they also found cash and equipment and chemicals associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine, Mr Brazier said.
Police had approached the Whare's family at Te Puke and believed he knew they wanted to speak to him but was avoiding them.
"We've got a warrant for his arrest for unlawful possession of a pistol and obviously we want to talk to him about the other matters as well.
"Basically, we consider him dangerous. He knows police are looking for him in relation to some serious charges. He should not be approached."
Anyone who knows of Whare's whereabouts is asked to contact police on 0800 SPEAK UP.
By Beck Vass