Wednesday, 6 September 2023 - 4:22pm |
National News

Operation Cobalt passes new milestone: 50,000 charges laid; 500 firearms seized

2 min read

Operation Cobalt has reached a milestone of 50,000 charges laid against gang members and associates, just over a year after it was launched.

In the process, Police have removed more than 500 firearms out of the wrong hands as part of ongoing disruption of unlawful activity.

Alongside enforcement, there continues to be a focus on prevention opportunities through various initiatives and inter-agency collaboration to reduce harm and address wider issues surrounding organised crime in communities.

Detective Superintendent Uraia Vakaruru, the National Controller for Operation Cobalt, says Police have continued to keep pressure on gangs, reinforcing that unlawful behaviour is not acceptable.

“Any violence or other unlawful gang activity has no place in our communities, and we have no tolerance for the harm that this inflicts on the public.

“Police have run large and visible operations keeping the movements and actions of gang members in check. We have deployed staff across the country and also had checkpoints in operation. We have used disruption and targeting tactics with search warrants, arrests and seizures being made.”

The results speak for themselves.

Since the end of August, 50,396 charges have been laid against gang members and associates for a offences which include violence, dishonesty, drugs and firearms offending.

Police have seized 501 firearms and issued 64,524 Infringement Offence Notices (IONs).

“We have seen results from right around the country since Operation Cobalt began,” Detective Superintendent Vakaruru says.

“Whether that has been arrests and vehicles seized in the Far North, firearms seized in central Auckland suburbs, or gang members arrested moving through the South Island; Police have continued to target illegal behaviour being employed by gangs.”

The milestone is also testament to the work of dedicated Operation Cobalt staff targeting serious offending, as well as work being carried out every day by staff in a range of workgroups.

“Alongside Operation Cobalt, each policing district run their own operations and these fall within the priorities as part of our national unlawful gang activity focus,” Detective Superintendent Vakaruru says.

“I acknowledge the various teams that have had a part of play with this result, for their tenacity and professionalism in getting the job done.

“Police are continuously improving our processes and we continue to see enhanced information and intelligence sharing right across the country which assists with enforcement opportunities.”

  • BY THE NUMBERS – as of 31 August 2023:

• Search warrants – 1,369
• Warrantless searches – 781
• Charges laid – 50,396
• Infringements – 64,524
• Firearms seized – 501


Jarred Williamson/NZ Police