Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Gang motorcycles crushed as police gain new powers to tackle crime

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Three of the distinctive motorcycles belonging to the Comancheros gang to recently be crushed. Photo supplied

The Government has announced it’s moving to restore law and order by giving police new tools to crack down on criminal gangs.

Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith says over the past five years gangs in New Zealand have recruited more than 3000 new members, a 51 per cent rise in their numbers.

“At the same time, we’ve seen a significant escalation in gang-related violence, public intimidation and shootings, with violent crime up 33 percent.

“We need to take action and reduce gangs’ ability to engage in criminal behaviour and prevent them from further endangering and intimidating Kiwis.

“That is why, as part of National and ACT’s coalition agreement, the Government will introduce legislation to ban all gang insignia in public places, and create greater powers to stop criminal gangs from gathering in groups and communicating.

“Police will be able to issue dispersal notices, which will require gang members to immediately leave the area and not associate with one another for seven days.

“Courts will be able to issue non-consorting orders, which will stop specified gang offenders from associating or communicating with one another for up to three years.

“The law will also be changed to give greater weight to gang membership as an aggravating factor at sentencing, enabling courts to impose more severe punishments.”

Police Minister Mark Mitchell says Kiwis deserve to feel safe in their homes, communities and public places.

“For too long, gangs have been allowed to behave as if they are above the law.

“There’s no tolerance for this behaviour and these new laws will support police to take action against it.”

In a sign of the coalition Government’s desire to reduce gang crime, six motorcycles that belonged to members of the Comancheros gang have been destroyed following a court order.

The Harley-Davidsons were seized during Operation Nova, which saw 18 people charged with a variety of serious offences, in 2019.

The six motorcycles are worth an estimated $96,000.

Police say it’s the first time they’ve sought such an order under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.

Excluding motorcycles, $2.6 million in assets were restrained from the gang in the operation.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says across multiple phases in the investigation, police honed their efforts into targeting the gang’s senior leadership figures and its illegal activities.

“At the time, police made numerous arrests and restrained about $4 million in assets from the gang, which included the six distinctive Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

“It’s part of an ongoing focus by police on disrupting the illegal activities of organised criminal groups, along with targeting assets they’ve obtained through their offending.”

Coster says a former Comancheros secretary convicted as part of Operation Nova was deported back to Australia this month.

“It will be of some reassurance to police and the public that this decision means these bikes, purchased with the proceeds of crime, will not end up back in the wrong hands.”

Among the assets police seized during Operation Nova are $402,360 in cash, four Range Rovers, a Rolls-Royce Wraith, high-end Mercedes-Benz and Audi vehicles, designer products and jewellery, and property in Auckland.

Among the charges laid are participating in an organised crime group, importing methamphetamine, conspiracy to import methamphetamine, conspiracy to supply methamphetamine, conspiracy to supply Class B controlled drug, possession of cocaine for supply, money laundering, unlawful possession of firearms and unlawful possession of ammunition.

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