OFF THE WIRE
Nine men were arrested on firearms charges this morning after Police carried out simultaneous warrants on a number of Auckland properties. Five of the men are members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Gang and four others are associates.
They have been charged with intentional damage, commission of a crime while in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm except for some lawful, proper and sufficient purpose.
Six firearms have been seized as a result of today’s activities.
The charges relate to alleged illegal hunting activities on the Woodhill state forest at night, without permits and without firearms licences over the past year.
Police and OFCANZ staff executed search warrants in Auckland this morning after an investigation into the alleged offending.
Detective Inspector Grant Wormald of OFCANZ said the forest was a reserve used by trampers, mountain bikers and recreational hunters with strict safety rules.
“Hunting is only allowed through a carefully managed ballot system in an area cleared of people for a short period each year. Other than that nobody should be in there at all with a firearm. We don’t have to look too far back in time to remember the tragic fatal shooting of a young woman in a recreational forest near Turangi as a result of someone hunting illegally at night”.
Warrants were also executed in New Plymouth, as a result of the investigation, including at the Magogs Headquarters in Ngamotu. One man has been arrested.
This operation is a continuation of work OFCANZ and Police have done, in conjunction with other agencies, to disrupt a wide-range of criminal activities by the Hells Angels over the past two and a half years.
“A number of Hell’s Angels gang members from around New Zealand have been prosecuted or are now on active charges ranging from possession and supply of methamphetamine to robbery, burglary and extortion.
“We have made arrests in Auckland, Napier, Tauranga and Nelson, where an under-cover operation early this year put an end to off-shoot gang the Red Devils.”
“Our goal is to investigate the crimes they are committing and disrupt their activities to the extent that it’s very hard for them to operate at all,” Detective Wormald said.
The men charged today will appear in the North Shore District Court at 2.15 pm today.