Gang deal sounds all too sweet

EDITORIAL

Last updated 09:18 16/05/2014

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Publicity for this week's TV edition of 3rd Degree announced that Samantha Hayes had been invited into Mongrel Mob headquarters to see an historic change.

The Mob and the Black Power were talking peace, saying it was time members renounced crime and became a force for good in the community.

Story of the year, or the most gullible? Our inclination is towards the latter. It is not news that leaders of rival gangs are talking. They have done that all around the world, and in Taranaki, for years. It is for that reason we rarely see turf wars in this country. But, we were told, this was a shift in mood.

The New Zealand Herald chimed in to say police were willing to broker a peace plan. Of a meeting between the leaders, it was suggested "their decision to take part and to speak of finding peace with historical rivals will be seen as a strong message to members across the country".

Founding Black Power member and national president Reithu Harris made the right noises. "I think it's merging whanaus together - in a positive way - not to merge to do drugs, not to merge to do crime. I'm totally against that. But if we are merging for the positive things in life which is going to affect the next generations of our children then I'll support that."

On a lesser scale in Dunedin last week the two gangs made a joint submission to the city council seeking a council contract to cut grass and maintain green spaces.

So, aside from altruistic reasons, why would the two largest gangs in the country want to smoke a peace pipe in public? Usually, companies merge to form a stronger company, covering a broader area. So a cynic might call to mind a story which ran at the start of this month about Operation Genoa.

Police raids harvested more than $3 million in assets including a Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati, a launch, five properties, gold and silver and more than $2m in cash as part of an investigation into the manufacture and supply of methamphetamine in the Auckland region.

The haul also included methamphetamine and precursor drugs and chemicals worth about $3.5m on the street.

The gang involved was not Black Power or the Mob. It was the Head Hunters.

The drug markets across the country are dominated by gangs, and court reports over the years have also painted a picture of gangs earning revenue through extortion. Gangs have preyed on vulnerable youth and provided them with a sense of security. It is those young men who usually end up in court. The gang leaders are highly intelligent organisers and administrators who in another life might have been leaders in business.

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Gang leaders do not have a good record when it comes to public claims about drugs. Killer Beez deputy leader Joel Masters was famously caught in a major police drug sting a few weeks after telling a television audience his gang's attitude to P was "We're against it. We hate it."

That said, if gangs merge for the positive things in life, which will affect the next generations of their children, then like Reithu Harris, we'll support that.

- Taranaki Daily News

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