Millions of dollars of P were allegedly sold by the Mongrel Mob during a covert police investigation which ended in raids across the Bay of Plenty this morning.

But the social cost of the methamphetamine misery was much higher, according to police and community leaders in Kawerau, who say more drug and alcohol counselling, education and jobs are needed to curb addiction.

"It's time this country woke up to the bullshit that's going on around here. This is going on all around the country," said Malcolm Campbell, the mayor of Kawerau.

"This is a scourge on society. When you've got young kids walking around fried out of their heads, it's not a good thing. It's not good for the town and it's not good for anyone. We're picking up the pieces."

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His comments were made at a press conference following the termination of Operation Notus, a six-month investigation into the Mongrel Mob Kawerau allegedly supply methamphetamine.

More than 30 people were arrested, 26 firearms were seized and around $2 million of property - including homes, motorcycles, boats and cars - were seized in Kawerau, Whakatane and Opotiki.

Armed police used angle grinders to enter the headquarters of the gang, while three vehicles and a jet ski were removed from the home of the chapter's president.

The value of the methamphetamine allegedly sold over six months was estimated to be $2.6m, said Inspector Kevin Taylor, the area commander for the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

But the cost of the "social harm" of that quantity of the Class-A drug is calculated to be $5.4m.

While dismantling an alleged supply chain was pleasing, Taylor said police and the Kawerau community must work together to stop any other criminal group from filling the gap in the market - and reduce demand for the product.

"This gives us an opportunity to work with the local council, iwi, other government agencies to reposition where we're at with the sale and consumption of meth in this town," said Taylor.

"That's a challenge."


The raids in Kawerau came shortly after new research was published showing the Bay of Plenty had the most need for help with substance abuse in the country.

Chris Marjoribanks, the chief executive of the Tuwharetoa Health Education and Services Trust, said there had been a marked increase in methamphetamine addiction in the past 12 months.

There is a real human cost.

"The deprivation of children in these homes, no food, no proper clothing, is borne deep within the families."

The answer lay in greater drug and alcohol counselling in Kawerau, education and employment, said Marjoribanks.

"We need jobs so they're not sitting around with time on their hands. We've got to provide other opportunities and aspiration."

Three vehicles belonging to the Mongrel Mob Kawerau president were seized by police. Photo/Alan Gibson.
Three vehicles belonging to the Mongrel Mob Kawerau president were seized by police. Photo/Alan Gibson.

A woman and seven men appeared in a Tauranga court today facing charges stemming from the operation.

They were Mark William Guptill, 43, Rangitupukiwaho Kevin Burgess, 33, Dean Karaitiana, 52, Inia Curry, 33, Slobodan Rahorei Milosevic, 27, Anahera Marie Iopata, 35, Trevor Parker and Jason Kirk Iopata, 43.

Most of the defendants consented to a remand in custody by Judge Paul Mabey QC until their next court appearance on either April 10 or 11.

Seven people also appeared in the Whakatane District Court today facing similar charges, and one each in the Gisborne and Hasting courts.

A further 15 people were due to appear in Rotorua District Court tomorrow.​

Police at a property associated with the Mongrel Mob gang in the Bay of Plenty township of Kawerau this morning. Photo / Alan Gibson.
Police at a property associated with the Mongrel Mob gang in the Bay of Plenty township of Kawerau this morning. Photo / Alan Gibson.

Operation Notus

• A 6 month investigation into Mongrel Mob

• 30 arrests

• Restrained more than $2m of assets.

• $2.6m of P sold

• Estimated $5.4m of social harm