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Organised crime taskforce launched

Police Commissioner Mike Bush at the launch of the organised crime taskforce in Tauranga. Photo: Ryan Wood.

New Zealand Police are increasing efforts on reducing the harmful effects of organised crime on communities with the establishment of a taskforce in Tauranga that will focus on organised crime and asset recovery in the Bay of Plenty .

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says the taskforce is strategically based in Tauranga and is a response to organised criminals with ‘transnational ties’ operating in the region.

“This taskforce will target the connections of local criminals with networks in Auckland and Waikato, which are known to have a national reach,” says Mike.

As well as targeting the criminal side of organised crime, police will also be focusing on the business side of criminal behaviour by investigating the financial crime that goes alongside drug supply.

“We know some organised criminals seem relatively unconcerned about going to jail for lengthy periods of time, but when we restrain their assets and wealth accumulated through that behaviour it hurts, and that’s a good thing.

“It takes away the incentive to commit these crimes.

“Criminals do not deal in drugs because they like drugs, they do it because they like the money this brings them.”

Since July 1, 2017, police have restrained $34.42m in assets and forfeitures of $10.49m.

Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers says the key way to reduce the effect of drug use in the community is by targeting those inflicting these drugs on our communities.

“Stopping criminals from putting their own profit-making activities ahead of the welfare of our communities is what we are here to do, it’s our job.

“You only have to talk to someone with a loved one addicted to drugs to know that the harm drug addictions inflict on whole families lasts a long time, sometimes a life time.” 

Richard says organised crime groups across New Zealand are well connected, and when there is money to be made they are willing to put their differences aside. 

“Just as government agencies and private businesses see success by working with together, so do these criminals,” he says.

“This taskforce will therefore operate to target the connections of local criminals to networks in Auckland and Waikato, which are known to have a national reach. We want to ensure no-one accumulates wealth by being in the business of crime.”

Six special investigators and three asset recovery specialists will make up the taskforce.

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