11 Mar 2011

Police swoop on two gang HQs

9:48 pm on 11 March 2011

The headquarters of the Hell's Angels and Red Devils' gangs have been raided after one of the biggest undercover operations in New Zealand history.

Tasman District Commander, Superintendent Gary Knowles, says by 3pm on Friday, police has searched 31 properties in Nelson, Mapua, Motueka, Takaka, Picton and Blenheim, including the headquarters of the Red Devils in Natalie St, Nelson.

The raids were carried out by Armed Offenders and Special Tactics squads. Members of the latter, anti-terrorist squad, train with the SAS.

Two more houses were raided in Auckland, including the headquarters of the Hell's Angels.

A digger was used to smash into the Red Devils' site, and an Air Force Hercules plane flew 90 staff from Auckland and Wellington to assist local police and Customs officers early in the morning.


Police say 28 people are now in custody facing charges ranging from dealing class A, B and C drugs - including LSD, ecstacy and methamphetamine - to being a member of an organised crime group under Section 98A of the Crimes Act.

Eleven motorcycles and a range of firearms including rifles, shotguns and pistols, some of which are cut-down rifles, were seized say police. Two pipe bombs were also recovered.

Police say 240 staff were involved in the raids, which were the result of an 18-month undercover operation also involving the Defence Force, Customs and the Organised and Financial Crime Agency.

The raids themselves were carried out by more than 120 staff.

Police say the infiltration was one of the deepest in police history.


'Front' for bigger gang

Superintendent Knowles says since the Red Devils first appeared in the district two years ago, police have maintained they are a puppet gang for the Hells Angels and are heavily involved in organised crime.

"The gang's supporters and their legal representatives have constantly denied these claims. What we have revealed today is the extent of the gang's firearms trading, the work they have done to develop drug supply lines, extortion, burglaries and moving stolen property around the country," he says.

"The fact they are now manufacturing explosive devices to be used against members of the public underpins the danger these criminals pose to this community.

"These gangs are not a bunch of good old boys with bikes, they are organised, criminals and they are not welcome in this community," Superintendent Knowles says.