Seven people have been arrested and $3.5 million worth of assets seized after police executed 18 search warrants at the end of a 10-month investigation into drug dealing.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Chestnut, cracked what police described on Friday as a “sophisticated drug dealing and money laundering operation”.
Search warrants in the Tasman, Wellington, Central and Eastern police districts began on Wednesday.
A search on Wednesday led to the arrest of a 44-year-old Horowhenua man police described as the “alleged main offender”.
That man had links to members of the Filthy Few, Hells Angels, Head Hunters, Black Power and Mongrel Mob gangs, and was charged with drug dealing, money laundering and unlawful possession of weapons.
Three Tasman men – aged 44, 50, 53 – as well a 36-year-old man, 54-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman from Horowhenua, were also arrested in subsequent searches.
Properties in Himatangi, Horopito, Marlborough Sounds and Wellington were among those searched.
One search in Horowhenua resulted in 60 mature cannabis plants and 4 kilograms of packaged cannabis worth about $40,000 being located.
Police also found 19 firearms, methamphetamine and about $500,000 cash.
Six properties, a catamaran, a yacht, a jet ski, a motorcycle and classic cars were among the seized items.
Detective Inspector Paul Baskett said the operation reflected a commitment to disrupting and dismantling drug networks.
“This type of offending undermines the wellbeing of our communities creating significant social harm.
“Police will continue to target those who illegally accumulate assets and wealth through the sale of illicit drugs.”
The “alleged main offender” is due to appear in the Wellington District Court in November.