The Far North is at the centre of a major methamphetamine operation that was shut down by police last week. Three of the nine people arrested are from Whangape, where much of the $2 million in assets seized under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act was also located.
Fifty-nine-year-old Colin McKendrick Murray and 53-year-old Betty Anne Lloyd have been bailed from the Kaitaia District Court on charges including participating in an organised criminal group and two of money laundering, while 45-year-old Frank William Murray was remanded in custody until tomorrow on 13 charges of manufacturing and supplying methamphetamine, three of possessing material and one of possessing equipment for manufacturing the drug, two of money laundering, one of conspiring to supply methamphetamine and one of participating in a criminal group.
Colin Murray and Lloyd will appear in the Kaitaia District Court on December 4.
A property at Pukepoto was also searched, while other arrests were made in Auckland and Whangarei after search warrants were executed by police and members of the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ).
Police seized $154,000 in cash (of which $100,000 was found in a rusty ammunition box buried in a paddock at Whangape) and $300,000 worth of methamphetamine.
Two more people with links to Northland were still sought as of late last week, while a considerable quantity of chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine had been seized.
Detective Sergeant John Sowter of OFCANZ said the search warrants, executed on Tuesday and Wednesday, were the culmination of a three-month investigation named Operation Enzone. Three properties, including two farms in the Far North and a property at Red Beach, Auckland, were seized along with a range of vehicles, including quad bikes, diggers and tractors, as well as farm equipment.
Detective Sergeant Sowter said those arrested were alleged to have been involved in manufacturing methamphetamine and supplying the drug in the upper North Island, Auckland, Napier, and as far south as Wellington.
OFCANZ staff had worked with local police in Napier and the Far North.
"It is a good result, and the culmination of some hard work by OFCANZ and police investigators," he added, although it was difficult to gauge the impact Operation Enzone would have on the drug trade.
"It's always pleasing to get these drugs out of circulation," he said however.
Frank Murray was arrested on October 27, after what police described as a routine traffic stop n State Highway 1 at Umawera (Routine stop leads to meth lab, Northland Age November 1). He was charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of equipment for its manufacture after police discovered what Detective Sergeant Mark Robertson described as all the components required for a meth lab.
"We seized equipment, chemicals, basically an entire lab, breathing apparatus and protective clothing," he said.
Two properties at Whangape were searched the same day, police seizing more equipment and chemicals found in bush.