Drug arrests reveal gang underbelly

Police have made eight more arrests in the latest in a string of raids they say reveals an outlaw motorcycle gang playing a significant role in the lower North Island's drugs trade.

Eight more people have been arrested, and drugs, cash, and motorbikes seized in yet another round of raids targeting the region's methamphetamine and fantasy trade.

Police around Wellington city and the Hutt Valley carried out nine search warrants yesterday. 

All eight arrested were members of the Highway 61 motorcycle gang.

Yesterday, police seized another 11.5 grams of methamphetamine, 1 litre of the party drug fantasy and $80,000 of cash. Assets worth a total $100K were also restrained.

Police used a "cash dog" - trained to sniff out the currency - to detect the $80K in cash also found yesterday, police said.

The sting was the second and final phase of an 18-month long police investigation dubbed Operation Fantail. 

Following an initial slew of arrests as part of the operation a fortnight ago, police revealed that rival gangs allegedly worked together to run Wellington's methamphetamine trade.

Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Moore from the Organised Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand, which led Operation Fantail, said members of outlaw motorcycle gangs were facilitating and financing part of the drugs market in Wellington, the Wairarapa, Manawatu and Hawke's Bay.

In the first phase of Operation Fantail, which brought a round of police drugs raids on June 10, a Tribesman gang member, a Mongrel Mob associate and a Highway 61 associate were among seven people arrested around Wellington, the Wairarapa and Auckland.

A total of 15 people have now been arrested as a result of Operation Fantail and a total of 200 grams of methamphetamine - with an estimated street value of up to $200k - has now been seized by police.

About 2000 millilitres of GBH which has a street value of $20k and $200k in cash was seized throughout the operation, along with assets totalling $160k - including sports cars and a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

A separate operation by Wellington district police, which concluded last Thursday, also resulted in 21 arrests.

Police found swords and $20k worth of methamphetamine at a central Wellington apartment during a series of raids around the wider Wellington region, which also netted cocaine, MDMA and ecstasy.

The Dominion Post