17 Sep 2021

Police operation netting almost 1000 firearms to continue until March

1:40 pm on 17 September 2021

Police are extending their operation targeting firearms-related violence by criminal gangs and organised crime groups.

Some of the firearms seized in police's Operation Evansville.

Some of the guns police seized following a major operation in Auckland in February. Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

Operation Tauwhiro will be extended by six months, with nearly 1000 guns, 865 arrests and nearly $5 million seized in the first six months it has been running.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said in a statement that Tauwhiro is suppressing gang tensions by ensuring firearms-related violence receives immediate and focused attention.

"The operation is also reducing harm by removing firearms from criminals and preventing them from getting firearms in the first place."

Coster said preventing gangs and organised crime groups from accessing guns has meant police are working closely with other government agencies as well as gun retailers, gun clubs and firearms licence holders.

This work continues as investigations into a range of associated offending are ongoing, he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Police Commissioner Andrew Coster hold a press conference with the details of the Auckland supermarket terror attack in the Beehive Theatrette on Friday evening.

Police are working with everyone from government agencies to gun retailers on Operation Tauwhiro, Commissioner Andrew Coster says. Photo: POOL / Stuff / Robert Kitchin

The police are also working with communities to reduce the social harm caused by organised crime and gun violence.

Initiatives varied around the country but examples include a community forum held in Māngere to discuss solutions to gang tensions and gun-related crimes in the area.

In rural communities police have been partnering with local providers to educate people about aspects of safe firearms use, ownership and their responsibilities.

"We appreciate the positive conversations we have had, and continue to have, with our partners and the community," Coster said.

Police Minister Poto Williams said Operation Tauwhiro has succeeded in getting gang leaders off the streets.

"Gangs destroy lives, but we will not let them destroy communities. This government is very clear that violent gangs and other criminals cannot continue to threaten, intimidate, and exploit our communities," Williams said in a statement.

"Operation Tauwhiro will continue to disrupt and prevent firearms-related violence by criminal gangs and organised crime groups."

She said the government is committed to introducing Firearms Prohibition Orders that will give police new powers to seize assets from criminals.

In the last four years $500m in cash and assets has been seized from gangs, she added.

Anyone with concerns about organised crime or illegal possession of firearms can call police on 105 or talk anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

Operation Tauwhiro will run until 1 March, 2022.

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