Well life is always full of surprises, isn’t it?

So, yes, my house in Henderson was raided at 6am this morning. The tenant is allegedly one of the Head Hunters gang members. A mass raid was done in several locations and quite a few houses at West were affected.

Link to article here: Three inmates among 10 arrested in Head Hunters gang raids

Police raid Head Hunters properties in Auckland and around the North Island.

– 180 police raid more than 30 properties across Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Northland in Head Hunters sting
– 10 people arrested
– Three patched gang members were already behind bars when arrested
– The Mt Eden prison inmates allegedly used smuggled cellphones to help run drug ring
– Three further people, including a former prison guard, investigated in relation to alleged smuggled contraband
– Corrections Minister says he’s disappointed with arrests
– Labour says it’s the last straw for private prison operator Serco
– Police expect to seize $4m in assets
– Vintage cars, guns, drugs and ammunition seized

Three Mt Eden inmates are among the 10 people arrested in raids on the Head Hunters gang – with police also talking to a former guard.

Almost 180 police officers searched more than 30 properties in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Northland, shortly after 6am on Tuesday morning as part of Operation Sylvester, targeting the gang. Searches were conducted also in Huntly, Ruakaka and Tauranga.

The 10 – nine men and one woman – would be charged with a range of serious offences including the manufacture and supply of methamphetamine, possession of precursor substances, unlawful possession of firearms, participating in an organised criminal group, money laundering and possession for supply of a class C controlled drug.

Police were also speaking to one woman and two men, including a former Mt Eden prison guard, believed to have been involved with supplying Head Hunters and other inmates with contraband.

The contraband included such things as tobacco and cellphones, police said.

At least five people arrested as part of the operation are due to appear in Auckland District Court on Tuesday afternoon on a range of charges.

The charges include money laundering in relation to a number of cars, possession of a collection of firearms and pistols.

They would also face a string of charges relating to the manufacture, supply and possession of methamphetamine and ecstasy.

One man arrested on Tuesday was also facing a charge of attempting to procure wounding someone by breaking of his arms and legs.

Private prison operator Serco and the Department of Corrections were working with police on the alleged illegal activities around Mt Eden prison.

Detective inspector Bruce Good said he appreciated interest would arise from this aspect of the operation but refused to give any further details.

FOCUS ON LICENCES ISSUED

Searches were also carried out at properties in West Auckland, Tauranga and Huntly on Tuesday morning relating to car and motorbike licences that were suspected to have been fraudulently issued to Head Hunters members and associates, police said.

The licences were allegedly issued by three driver/motorcycle testing companies certified by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

Police were working with NZTA on this issue, which would be an ongoing part of Operation Sylvester.

“Sadly the demand for methamphetamine in this country remains strong. There is no sector of our society that is not affected in some way by it.

“This operation has targeted the criminal activities of people belonging to a gang – the reality here is that the Head Hunters have significant influence over the methamphetamine market in New Zealand and that in turn is a key driver of crime,” Good said.

Police also seized cars.

INMATE ARRESTS DISAPPOINTING – MINISTER

Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said he was disappointed to hear of the arrests.

The arrests came as the prison was taken out of the hands of Serco, following allegations of fight clubs and violent assaults at Mt Eden.

The minister said the new issues surrounding the arrests would form part of the review of Mt Eden prison already underway by the Chief Inspectorate.

The Corrections Department refused to comment on the arrests and alleged illegal activity within the prison other than to say it was working with police.

Labour’s corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said Tuesday’s arrests of the two inmates should prompt the government to cancel its contract with Serco.

“National has stood by Serco despite everything that has happened, even saying their performance was ‘of the highest level’.

“But today’s revelations that two prisoners were allegedly helping to co-ordinate the drug ring from behind bars using smuggled cell phones shows that Serco has no control over their prison.”

GANG MEMBER SPEAKS

A senior Head Hunters figure says he knows little about widespread raids carried out by police against the gang on Tuesday morning.

“I believe the police are up there [at Ellerslie’s Fight Club 88] and someone’s texting me that there is something on the TV,” convicted murderer Wayne Doyle, 61, said.

“Until I get up there and find out what’s going on I wouldn’t have a clue. I do not know what has happened today.”

Asked what he thought about police linking the Head Hunters to large scale methamphetamine manufacture and supply, Doyle said: “I wouldn’t have a clue. I don’t know what everybody does … you only go on what people tell you.”

Doyle said he was not aware of any illegal activity at Fight Club 88.

“There’s a no drug policy there – there always has been and hopefully there always will be, but once again you’re relying on people’s honesty.”

Doyle said reports that he was president of the gang’s east chapter were a “fallacy”.

“I never have been. I’m a long-time member – I’ve been a member for many years, but that’s as far as it goes. I might be a senior member, but I don’t hold any office.”

Doyle was convicted in 1985 of murdering a King Cobra gang member.

GUNS SEIZED

The investigation into the criminal activity by the Head Hunters gang had been ongoing for several months.

Good said detailed planning had gone into Tuesday’s operation.

“We know from experience that where there is methamphetamine, there are often firearms, and to ensure the safety of not only the public but also that our of own staff, extensive planning has gone into today’s operation.”

Several weeks ago police found a van full of meth, along with drug manufacturing ingredients, four high-powered rifles, a revolver and a large stock of ammunition, he said.

The drugs and guns were found during a search of a storage facility in Mt Wellington as part of the operation.

Among the guns seized by police was a Heckler & Koch USC semi-automatic carbine, which fired “man-stopping” 45-calibre rounds, a Blaser bolt-action rifle – a military-grade sniper rifle used by the German and Dutch police as well as the Australian military, and a Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM, a tactical rifle with firepower its maker says was considered “previously unthinkable”.

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