A large international police operation is unfolding across the North Island, targeting organised crime groups.
It is understood those involved have allegedly offended across borders of multiple countries.
Just before 9am, police confirmed a number of people have been arrested in relation to serious drug dealing and money laundering offences, a statement said.
They will appear in the Auckland District Court and Hamilton District Court this morning.
The exact number of people arrested has not been made known.
Police are due to give an update on the situation at a press conference at 11am.
Police last night confirmed they were executing a number of search warrants at properties in the Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Central and Wellington districts.
Australian media are reporting that the sting involved members of the Australian Federal Police working with overseas authorities, including the FBI, for up to three years.
During that time, they monitored a Trojan horse app dubbed AN0M that gangsters thought authorities couldn’t tap into, Australia’s Herald Sun reported.
“Police will allege senior Australian Mafia figures, feared bikies and members linked to South American drug cartels, Asian Triads and Middle Eastern and European criminal syndicates have been exposed by the sting – the largest in Australian history,” the newspaper said.
A police spokeswoman told the Herald last night that the warrants are in relation to a National Organised Crime Group operation.
However, she would not be drawn on the timing of the searches or whether they were ongoing.
One of the warrants was believed to have been executed in Pt England last night, when a resident saw armed police on the street.
Later, a house was cordoned off and numerous police officers – some of whom were armed – could be seen outside.
A witness said a motorcyclist drove past the house at high speed, seemingly without noticing the police. The man then returned and parked his bike before going into the nearby dairy.
Heavy police presence in West Auckland and Ōpōtiki
When he left he was spoken to by police and taken into custody.
Police have called a press conference in central Auckland this morning to discuss the “major trans-national organised crime operation”.
In West Auckland, locals in New Lynn said they had seen police around Rua Rd and nearby Croydon Rd.
“Saw two unmarked police cars on Rua Road today – two cops with assault rifles stood at the end of the driveway by the crossing.”
Residents in and around Whakatāne also reported seeing a heavy police presence in Ōpōtiki yesterday evening.
Staff at the News Whakatāne said they had received “multiple reports” of police there last night.
Overnight police raids around the world
The Herald Sun said Australian authorities worked with the FBI to monitor the a AN0M app that organised crime gangs used to plan executions, mass drug importations, industrial-scale money laundering and gun running.
Up to 4000 properties around Australia are said to have been raided by police.
Raids on AN0M users were carried out by authorities overnight – including in the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
Police told the newspaper that they foiled up to 21 murder plots and exposed the trafficking of billions of dollars worth of drugs into Australia.
More than 100 people have been charged, 3366kg of drugs and $35.8 million in cash seized, the Herald Sun reported. Up to 72 firearms were confiscated.
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