An Auckland gang member allegedly hid in the back of a truck to escape the city's Covid-19 lockdown to "tax" property from other criminals to repay debts he claimed were owed.
The 40-year-old is a former senior member of Black Power but is now a prospect for the Head Hunters motorcycle gang.
He was living in Auckland when the country was put into level 4 lockdown on August 18 following the discovery of a community outbreak of the Delta variant of Covid-19.
When restrictions were eased to level 2 for the rest of the country on September 8, police checkpoints were established at Auckland's borders to stop traffic coming in and out of the city.
Anyone without a travel exemption is turned around but police allege the Head Hunter slipped through the cordon on September 20 by hiding in the back of a truck, according to court documents.
He was arrested in Wellington by the Special Tactics Group, the elite armed police squad, two days later. His Covid-19 test came back negative.
After his arrest, police discovered a loaded .357 Magnum pistol at his mother's home, where he was staying, as well as another smaller pistol, also loaded, in the ute he was driving.
An ounce of methamphetamine was also found inside the vehicle.
A search of the gang member's house in Auckland also made the rare discovery of two 3D printers, as well as printed parts that could be assembled into a semi-automatic pistol.
The technology of 3D printing means the plans to manufacture firearms almost entirely out of plastic - save for a few metal components - can easily be found online.
This makes it easy to circumvent laws restricting the sale and purchase of firearms, although not many 3D printed firearms have been found in New Zealand - possibly because of the perceived unreliability of the homemade weapons.
The police allege the gang member left Auckland to collect debts perceived to be owed to him in Wellington, which is an underworld practice colloquially known as "taxing".
"Taxing" is rarely reported to police as the victims are in fear of further retribution or exposing their own criminal behaviour.
The Head Hunter prospect appeared in Wellington District Court on September 23, charged with five counts of threatening to kill or cause grievous bodily harm, three counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, illegally manufacturing a firearm, possession of methamphetamine for supply, and failing to comply with a Covid-19 order.
He was denied bail and is to appear in the Auckland District Court this month.
The alleged breach of the Covid-19 checkpoint by the gang prospect comes as health officials this week publicly confirmed that many of the new cases of the highly contagious Delta variant are among Auckland's gang communities and among rough sleepers.
"It seems to have seated itself in a gang environment and the homeless. These are people less likely to be trusting of the health system," Pacific health director Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone told MPs at the select committee hearing on Wednesday.
"Finding people within these communities that can promote the vaccine will be very important. These are things we've started to work on."
The Herald was the first to report the spread of Covid-19 among gangs after revealing a woman living at the Mongrel Mob pad in Alfriston tested positive for the virus. Patched members of the gang have also tested positive.
This was followed by a young prospect for the Hells Angels testing positive, and a patched member of Black Power becoming infected after being released from prison in Auckland and spreading the virus to children living in his home on the Hauraki Plains.
The tiny settlement of Kaiaua was then plunged into a snap level 4 lockdown.
With the Prime Minister set to announce tomorrow whether Auckland will move into less restrictive level 2, epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker and Dr Rawiri Jansen, a Māori public health specialist, say a a specific strategy is needed to work with gangs and other marginalised communities to stamp out the long tail of the community outbreak.