The Comancheros gang which police raided in Auckland today were being assisted by notorious international drug syndicate the Sinaloa cartel, police have revealed.
Eighty police executed 10 search warrants across Auckland today, seizing $3.7 million in assets including luxury vehicles, cash and weapons and arresting senior members of the gang.
At a press conference this afternoon, Detective Superintendent Greg Williams said the Auckland chapter of the Australian gang had grown quickly since members were deported from Australia in recent years.
He also revealed that it had been working with an international partner to allegedly import methamphetamine into the country.
"The reality is that most of our gangs across the country are dealing in these drugs for the profit," Williams said.
"And we're seeing a number of international groups - in this case the Sinaloa cartel was also involved - we are seeing a number of these international partners wanting to send the drugs down here to sell."
Founded by recently imprisoned drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, the Sinaloa cartel is considered the largest drug trafficking organisation in the world.
Five people appeared in court in Auckland today on charges of conspiracy to import methamphetamine and conspiracy to import the ingredients used in manufacturing the drug. The gang had allegedly planned to import $1 million in precursor drugs.
Police national manager of the financial crime group Iain Chapman said the raids were important because they had targeted a lawyer and an accountant who were alleged to have enabled the gang to launder their money.
"Police have the tools are resources available to us to effectively target this profession," he said at the press conference this afternoon.
"So I want to make it really clear that if you in your professional capacity choose to enable an organised crime group to flourish through laundering of their funds, that you can expect … full and robust attention from police."
Another important factor in the raids were the nature of the assets seized, Chapman said.
As well as two properties, police had seized four V-Rod Harley Davidson motorcycles, three Range Rovers and a Rolls Royce.
"These are really significant assets. They're status symbols that a gang would choose to use as a sphere of influence to entice younger people to join that gang.
"So by removing these types of assets, we're removing the desire to join these gangs."
Also seized was $60,000 in cash, a loaded pistol, and an MSSA pistol-grip shotgun and ammunition.
The arrests and seizures had "dealt a major blow" to the organisation, Williams said.
The gang was formed in New Zealand as a result of the controversial deportation of expat Kiwis from Australia, known as "501s", he said. The gang had since expanded to around 20 members and associates.
He said that behind the group's flashy image, which members promoted on social media, was enormous damage to communities caused by their alleged drug dealing.
"We just want the community to remember that behind that is an immense amount of suffering.
"While they deal those drugs, those people and their families are suffering from … addiction."