Charges could be laid against clients who bought crayfish from an East Coast family who are accused of operating a long-running blackmarket poaching ring.
The Ministry for Primary Industries said fisheries officers and police carried out five search warrants in Tolaga Bay, Rotorua and Kawerau this week, seizing 169 crayfish, cars, a boat, dive gear and kina.
The head of the operation, Adam Plumstead, said seven people face prosecution so far, but investigators are also talking to buyers.
"And that's one of the really disappointing aspects of a bust like this is that there are still willing buyers out there who buy crayfish from people like this and their actions actually assist this type of activity to continue because they create the market for this type of activity."
He said it's hard to believe people buying the crayfish would not have known they were illegal.
Mr Plumstead said people buying the goods encourage poachers to continue operating.