Seven people have been arrested after a police investigation into recent drive-by shootings, attacks, drug dealing and unlawful possession of firearms in Hawke’s Bay.
Police had been carrying out search warrants across the region, as well as Raupunga and Gisborne, since December 8, as part of the investigation.
Twenty-one firearms were recovered and seized, including a high-powered military-style semi-automatic assault rifle, numerous sawn-off weapons and a revolver.
Eastern investigations manager Rob Jones said some of the firearms seized were loaded.
Ammunition, methamphetamine, cannabis and cash, to the value of $26,000 dollars at one address, were also seized by police.
“This highlights real concern around the apparent ease of access by criminals, including gang members, to possess firearms and ammunition,” Jones said
Jones said numerous addresses searched where firearms and ammunition were found, were connected to members and associates of Black Power and Mongrel Mob.
“We want to send a clear message that such criminal activity won’t be tolerated. It causes immeasurable harm in our communities – harm that we are committed to reducing.”
“Police will target anyone who involves themselves in illicit drug manufacture and distribution, the number of high-powered firearms seized indicates a willingness to perpetrate intimidation and violence in order to achieve illegal activity.”
Jones said police would continue to liaise with gang and community leaders in an ongoing effort to prevent future violence.
He said the recovery of the firearms was a “huge relief to police”.
Enquiries were continuing to locate people involved and establish how the firearms came into the possession of gang members.
A 50-year-old man was arrested and appeared in the Wairoa District Court on firearms charges.
A 47-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman, both from Waipukurau, were arrested and charged with drug dealing offences relating to methamphetamine.
A 35-year-old man was arrested and charged with supplying methamphetamine. Police expected to lay further charges relating to firearms and receiving offences.
He will next appear in the Gisborne District Court in January next year.
A 58-year-old Hastings man was arrested on drug dealing charges relating to methamphetamine.
A 49-year-old Eskdale man was arrested for theft and unlawfully on property and a 37-year-old Bayview woman was arrested for possession of methamphetamine and firearms charges.
Both will be appeared in the Napier District Court on Friday.