Police have arrested six people and seized millions in assets after raids in Auckland today.
Seven high-end luxury vehicles, a boat and three motorbikes have been seized worth a combined value of more than $1.2 million.
The luxury vehicles include a $450,000 Lamborghini Huracan and three new 2020 Mercedes-Benz models, including a $280,000 G-wagon, police said.
Three properties in Half Moon Bay, Te Atatū and New Lynn – worth at least $3.3m – were restrained and about $250,000 in cash was also seized.
The arrests are the result of Operation Brookings, a long-running investigation by the Financial Crime Group into money laundering activity.
Detective Superintendent Iain Chapman said investigators targeted professional facilitators that allowed organised crime to take place.
Four men and two women, ranging in age from 29–65 years old, have been charged with money laundering offences.
Organised crime groups come in all shapes and sizes in New Zealand, Chapman said.
They had previously focused on groups like the Comancheros in operations like Operation Nova, he said.
“This group today was a professional money laundering service.”
They used semi-legitimate businesses that would remit funds, he said.
A significant amount of money going overseas went to China, he said.
Chapman said he was proud of the investigation team who had operated throughout Covid-19 alert levels and delivered what he called a “significant blow” to this organised crime effort.
“We want New Zealand to be the safest country and our part to play there is by making New Zealand the hardest place for criminals to do business.
“The action today is going to send a really clear message.”
Chapman believed they had taken the group by surprise.
“We were certainly out of bed before they were.”
A lot of the profits laundered into the system were generated by drugs, he said.
A 40-year-old man is expected in the Auckland District Court tomorrow and the other five will appear on Tuesday.