One of New Zealand's top five wanted offenders has been arrested in Northland in a police crackdown on organised crime during alert levels 3 and 4.
He was one of 23 people, all with links to gangs, who were nabbed in Northland as police revealed they used the Covid-19 lockdown period to target a range of gangs, including the Comancheros, Mongrel Mob, Black Power, Nomads, Headhunters, Rebels, King Cobras, Tribesmen and Mongols.
Since March 26, when New Zealand went into lockdown, police operations to dismantle organised crime groups operating in New Zealand continued.
Detective Inspector Rhys Johnston, field crime manager for Northland Police, said there were 13 search warrants carried out in the region and some involved the use of the Armed Offenders Squad.
Those arrested face a variety of charges including selling methamphetamine, cultivating cannabis and unlawful possession of firearms, with some facing in excess of 30 charges.
None of the 14 clandestine laboratories located nationally were found in Northland.
However, Northland police seized 23.5 grams of methamphetamine, 98 cannabis plants and 3 grams of cocaine.
Five firearms were seized as part of the crackdown and $920 cash located.
Johnston said members of the public were keen to come forward with information about abnormal and excessive car movements and activities, due to being at home for lockdown, which helped police with their warrants.
"All those arrested were in some way associated with gangs. We arrested one of the country's top five wanted offenders in Northland," Johnston said.
"Lockdown gave us an opportunity to target some people we were after. Obviously, regardless of the circumstances, we are going to target anyone involved in organised crime."
Nationally police seized 43 firearms, 25kg of methamphetamine, 30kg of cannabis, and small amounts of cocaine, MDMA, GBL, and LSD over the period of levels 3 and 4.
Detective Superintendent Greg Williams, national manager organised crime said police continued to hold organised criminals accountable even through the challenging Covid-19 time.
"The illicit activities these groups take part in cause immeasurable harm in our communities."
Nationally the search warrants executed resulted in 93 arrests on more than 250 charges.
The recovery of criminal proceeds has also continued throughout alert levels 3 and 4.
Over $4.4 million has been forfeited, most of which related to drug crime.
In addition over $2 million has been restrained and will be subject to further investigation pending forfeiture.