New Zealand Files 50,000 Charges in National Crackdown on Gangs

Published: 07 September 2023

New Zealand police carNew Zealand police conducts nationwide operation against criminal gangs. (Photo: GPS 56, Flickr, License)

By Lieth Carrillo

Police in New Zealand announced on Wednesday that its nationwide operation against gang activity has by August 31 resulted in more than 50,000 charges brought over a year after the crackdown began in the country.

More than 1,000 search warrants and 781 warrantless searches have been conducted, over 60,000 infringements have been recorded and 501 firearms have been seized in Operation Cobalt which aims to disrupt gangs operating in the country.

“Police have run large and visible operations keeping the movements and actions of gang members in check. We have deployed staff across the country and also had checkpoints in operation. We have used disruption and targeting tactics with search warrants, arrests and seizures being made,” a police statement said.

Some of the charges laid against gang members include violence, dishonesty, firearms, drugs, and firearms offenses.

“Whether that has been arrests and vehicles seized in the Far North, firearms seized in central Auckland suburbs, or gang members arrested moving through the South Island; Police have continued to target illegal behavior being employed by gangs,” it added.

In the last report presented by the Gang Harm Insights Centre of the New Zealand Police, the authorities estimated that 33 gangs were currently active in the country, with a total of 8,875 members. According to these data, the number of gang members has grown in recent years.

New Zealand gangs have a significant criminal component, ranging from minor drug offenses, car theft, and aggravated burglary to drug trafficking. In fact, the latter is linked to the rapid expansion of gangs in New Zealand which make an estimated half a billion in profits each year from the methamphetamine trade.

“The largest source of income for these groups is the distribution of drugs and illicit items. Many dangerous drugs including Methamphetamine, its ingredients, and other illicit items arrive in New Zealand from overseas”, affirmed the Gang Free Ports Bill of the country.