A daylight raid by police on several houses in the small King Country town of Te Kuiti netted four arrests and a swathe of weapons, cannabis and gang patches.
The Armed Offenders Squad from Auckland, Bay of Plenty and the Waikato swooped on seven addresses about 6.30am today following a spate of gang activity in the town in recent weeks.
Waikato District Crime manager Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley said warrants executed resulted in the arrest of four men facing numerous charges including robbery, assault and threatening to kill.
The arrested men were aged 41, 46, 49 and 53 and were due in Hamilton District Court today.
Between them they face charges for:
• Assault with intent to injure;
• Threatening to cause grievous bodily harm;
• Wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
• Demands with Menace [four counts];
• Theft [four counts];
• Participating in organised criminal group [four counts]
• And threatening to kill [seven counts].
"All four of those arrested have connections to gangs," Pitkethley said. "Further charges are likely to follow."
During the raids police seized two gang patches and several gang T-shirts, cannabis plant material, seeds and oil and five rifles including a Hawa, Winchester .22, Marlin .480, Magnum 44, and a cut-down .177.
An assortment of ammunition, including a large number of shotgun cartridges, was also found.
Pitkethley said it was pleasing to be able to hold offenders to account.
"This shows that we take offending of this nature extremely seriously and will not hesitate to bring people before the courts."
The Herald understands members of a Mongrel Mob gang have allegedly intimidated and assaulted at least one Te Kuiti business owner and tried to rob a motorcycle club in recent weeks.
Residents told the Herald the gang was trying to extort money from the business owner and another man suffered a broken jaw in a separate incident.
One resident said he saw police swooping on houses in Te Kumi Rd [State Highway 3] and near Centennial Park about 6.30am today.
"We do not tolerate intimidating behaviour in our communities and want to reassure members of the public that police will continue to do everything we can to stamp out this violent offending," Pitkethley said.
"We continue to encourage anyone with information about criminal offending, or those concerned for their safety or that of anyone else, to come forward to police or Crimestoppers."