In a recent development, a senior member of an Auckland gang associated with a popular city gym finds himself entangled in the web of law enforcement as he faces charges related to organized crime and six counts of methamphetamine offenses. The arrest is part of Operation Sumatra, a widespread crackdown on a multi-million-dollar Class A drug supply chain extending between Auckland and Christchurch.
The individual, among the 24 apprehended last month in connection with the illicit drug network, was granted electronic bail last week. However, stringent conditions were imposed, including a prohibition on accessing the gym or any related facilities, as well as restrictions on phone and internet-capable device usage. Notably, the police had contested his bail application, but Auckland District Court Judge Warren Cathcart ultimately allowed it, coupled with interim name suppression.
This senior figure faces charges of organized crime in collaboration with nine others and is scheduled for a court appearance early next year. The charges include one count of possession for supply of a Class A drug, along with five additional charges of supplying Class A drugs, each carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Participation in an organized criminal group, another charge levied against him, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson, leading the National Organised Crime Group (NOCG), shed light on the extensive operations, codenamed Operation Italian Sky in Christchurch and Operation Sumatra in Auckland. Over a four-week period, 32 search warrants were executed, resulting in more than 80 charges laid by Auckland and Christchurch police.
The raids yielded significant seizures, including 5kg of methamphetamine, 3.5kg of cocaine, and three firearms (pistol, shotgun, and rifle). In addition, an $80,000 stolen vehicle, jewelry, and over $500,000 in cash were confiscated. The estimated street value of the seized cocaine and methamphetamine amounts to nearly $3 million, equivalent to 235,000 doses and an estimated $5.5 million in social harm.
The 24 individuals arrested in this operation, comprising 11 in Christchurch and 13 in Auckland, range in age from 20 to 50, with 22 males and 2 females among them. The charges they collectively face include supplying methamphetamine and cocaine, participating in an organized criminal group, possession of firearms, money laundering, and possession of drug manufacturing equipment. The legal proceedings are set to cast a spotlight on the alleged criminal activities underlying this extensive Class A drug supply chain.