An alleged organised crime syndicate run by Vietnamese nationals has been busted in Auckland, police dismantling drug and money laundering operations and seizing $25 million worth of cannabis.
As part of Operation Beryl, 53 search warrants were executed at addresses across Waitematā and Counties Manukau districts as part of the continued focus on disrupting organised criminal activity.
As a result of the warrants, 10 arrests were made, 42 significant cannabis crop grows were located with 6886 plants and about 10kg of packaged cannabis seized. This has a street value of $16 million to $25 million.
Up to $100,000 in cash was also located and seized.
Twelve people are also facing deportation from New Zealand.
The 12 deportations involve nine migrants unlawfully in New Zealand.
A further three will be deported this weekend.
Three others on temporary visas have been served deportation liability notices, and potential deportation liability is being investigated for another 14.
Police intelligence suggests the alleged crime syndicate was predominantly operating across the Waitematā and Counties Manukau Police districts.
Waitematā Acting Detective Sergeant David Coombridge said the arrests follow an inquiry involving police and immigration officers into criminal syndicates involving Vietnamese nationals. Members were primarily using residential properties to set up sophisticated indoor cannabis growing systems and some of the alleged offenders had come to New Zealand specifically for the purpose of participating in the organised crime groups.
“These arrests should serve as a warning to those that may be involved in these kinds of drug cultivation, drug dealing and money laundering operations, that police will hold them to account,” he said.
“Police are well aware there are individuals and organisations that are enabling this kind of activity and are more than willing to profit off the proceeds of crime. Let this be a warning that they are likely to come to police attention.”
MBIE’s David Campbell, mational manager of compliance, said the investigation was an excellent example of co-operation across government agencies.
“As a result of police and MBIE compliance’s interactions with these migrants, we are now investigating the involvement of a number of accredited employers.
“Migrant workers need to be aware of those who would seek to exploit them. If you are being asked to pay large amounts of money to an offshore agent to travel and work in New Zealand, it is highly likely that this is part of a fraudulent scam.”
The 10 people arrested are due to appear in the Waitākere, North Shore and Counties Manukau courts over the coming days.
Police said they could not rule out further charges and arrests as part of Operation Beryl, and Immigration New Zealand would look to expedite deportations for those in breach of their visa conditions or who are here unlawfully.
Police are also working alongside Immigration New Zealand in relation to the foreign nationals involved in the investigation to ensure migrant communities are kept safe from those who would exploit the conditions of their work visas.
- Police ask anyone with information about suspected money laundering and drug dealing in their community to contact 105, or Crime Stoppers anonymously via 0800 555 111.
- Migrant communities concerned with possible exploitation should contact MBIE on 0800 20 90 20.