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Alleged Organised Crime Gang Appear In Court

10 in High Court for depositions

A depositions hearing gets underway in the Auckland High Court today which is the result of thousands of hours of work carried out by Police from the Auckland City and Counties Manukau Districts.

Operation Strike - a seven month operation - is bringing 10 alleged male offenders to Court for up to three weeks to determine whether all or some of them will go to trial on 297 charges relating to more than 160 offences.

Nine of the accused have been in custody for a number of months - the earliest arrests were made in February - while the remaining one was bailed to appear at the depositions hearing.

The range of offences the Operation Strike accused have been charged with is extensive and include:

• Participating in an Organised Criminal Group
• Unlawful Possession of Ammunition
• Aggravated Robbery, Burglary, Theft
• Aggravated Assault
• Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
• Obtain and Use a Document
• Passport Act charges
• Unlawful Taking of and Interference with a Motor Vehicle

Throughout the investigation, Police recovered six firearms, have laid charges relating to the unlawful taking of more than a million dollars worth of high performance vehicles, more than $50,000 of fraudulent use of credit cards and the thefts of valuable art works from a Parnell gallery.

The accused have retained - between them - 10 defence counsel while three Crown staff have been assigned to the operation's Court phases.

Officer in charge of Operation Strike, Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Lynch, said the depositions hearing is the next big step for the officers who've worked tirelessly on the multi-faceted investigation.

"We've got thousands of documents to present to the Court and they represent many painstaking hours of inquiries which were carried out by staff from across the two districts.

"While we're confident we're presenting robust cases to the Court, we'll continue to work on Operation Strike until it comes to its natural conclusion in the High Court - one way or another."

The accused are:

28 year-old Michael Dennis Baleitavuki
26 year-old Drew Norman
27 year-old Nicholas Owen Jones
27 year-old Christopher Wise
23 year-old Paul Francis Robinson
23 year-old Justin Abel
26 year-old Che Daniel Tarau
29 year-old Travis Lowe
27 year-old Richard Tikitiki
27 year-old George Haslam


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