Three men face charges of attempted murder after a two-month police investigation into a series of aggravated robberies across Waikato.
A large team of police searched properties around Hamilton from first light yesterday morning, district crime manager Detective Inspector Karl Thornton said.
The searches were part of Operation Ollivier, a two-month investigation into seven aggravated robberies this year. They involved the use of firearms in raids on the Frankton TAB in April and the Still Working Bar in Chartwell in May.
During the TAB hold-up, three men burst into the betting lounge in the Workingmen's Club on King St, about 9.50pm. One was allegedly armed with a bolt-action rifle while another carried a knife.
Two jumped the counter and threatened the TAB staff, demanding money. They took cash and personal property.
The Still Working Bar was robbed on May 18.
A staff member had locked up and was walking toward his car about 10.45pm when two men confronted him, one armed with a double-barrelled shotgun.
The victim was forced to hand over money before being led back inside and forced to open the store's safe where the thieves took more money before fleeing in a silver Subaru car.
Thornton said 20 people were arrested in Operation Ollivier, including five females, and they face a variety of charges.
Three men were charged with attempted murder and being members of an organised criminal group, together with two others.
Thornton regarded the arrests as a "major success" due to "dogged determination" from police.
Others facing prosecution include six juveniles arrested for an aggravated robbery on Hamilton's Holland Rd and three offenders arrested for Coromandel robberies.
Thornton said a variety of weapons were recovered in the searches of 15 properties, including two BB guns, two rifles and two shotguns.
"Because of the serious nature of the offences and the risks posed to the public, the searches were conducted with the assistance of the Waikato armed offenders squad and the recovery of the firearms indicates those safety concerns were well justified.
"Inquiries are still continuing into the robberies and police have not ruled out further arrests or charges."
The investigation team involved 15 investigators from across the Waikato Police District, supported by a large number of specialist staff. Fairfax NZ
- Waikato Times