Black Power member praises Comanchero police raids

News 12/04/2019

A Black Power life member is welcoming police getting "their act together" and seizing assets from the New Zealand branch of the Australian Comanchero gang.

On Thursday, five people were arrested and about $4 million in assets seized from 10 Auckland locations after a year-long investigation into the Comanchero.

Police allege the group intended to import both methamphetamine and ephedrine, and were laundering money with the help of a lawyer and an accountant.

The group's operations have been called sophisticated, and community advocate and Black Power life member Denis O'Reily has welcomed the police stepping up.

It shows that the police are on top it, that they have had their arm strengthened, and that they are chasing organised crime.

"It does show that the New Zealand police have got their act together, that they are not intimidated by anybody, and that if you are up to no good they are going to go after you."

O'Reily said New Zealand has a "really big methamphetamine problem" and hopes police and customs continue to stop the supply while "those of us in the community can try and drive down the demand".

But he isn't optimistic attempts to "counter methamphetamine" will work.

"I have been cracking at this for 15 years now, and it doesn't look like it isn't going away anytime soon."

He wants the Government to engage further with vulnerable people and make sure they don't become attracted to the high-class, luxurious life the gangs like to show off as their reality.

Greg Williams, national manager of the National Organised Crime Group, said on Thursday that the Comanchero use social media to market themselves as a high-class crime empire rather than a street gang.

He said it's important that New Zealanders understand how such groups operate, and that behind the veil of glamour is an "immense amount of suffering" caused by drug abuse.

O'Reily said "There is a North American ideology about accruing wealth and all these thing sort of conflate."

so I would rather see gangs being shearing gang, fencing gang, forestry gang, building gang, let's get back into employment

As well as two properties and a number of luxury vehicles, on Thursday police also seized $60,000 in cash, a loaded pistol and a military-style semi-automatic pistol grip shotgun and ammunition.

Phase one of the operation into the Comanchero was carried out on February 12, when six people were arrested across New Zealand and Fiji and 50kg of cocaine was seized.

More arrests are expected in the coming days.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Jamie Ensor