A collection of samurai swords discovered during a police drugs raid at a central Wellington apartment has been returned to its owner.
Police said the swords belonged to a central Wellington martial arts supplies shop, and included one of sentimental value that was given to the owner by the Japanese embassy in the 1970s, Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson said.
The theft of nine swords was reported to police in May. They were discovered last week at the scene of a tense standoff between police and a group alleged to be armed methamphetamine dealers.
Police entering the central city apartment where the swords were recovered found the occupants lying in wait with high-powered rifles. No-one was injured and no shots were exchanged, police said. Officers recovered $20,000 worth of methamphetamine, six guns, three replica firearms and an air gun.
The raid was part of a Wellington region-wide investigation into the drug-dealing activities of organised crime networks.
Police concluded the operation on Thursday with 21 arrests made over a week.
The series of raids netted methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy and cannabis, as well as a $3000 Maori carving that Te Papa has since confirmed had been stolen from the museum's gift shop.
Police have now identified other property recovered during the raids as being linked to at least eight reported burglaries around the region.
The stolen items included cameras, Nintendo Wii gaming consoles, telescopes, laptops, stereo equipment and a bicycle, Thomson said.
It was suspected the goods were stolen to order, or for use as barter for drugs.
"We have very, very clear evidence that a number of these drug dealers were swapping drugs for things like building equipment and electronics.
"These burglaries and the theft of the Te Papa carving indicate the strong links between violent crime and drugs."
Police are still hoping to speak to four more people in relation to last week's operation.
- The Dominion Post