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Change law to beggar drug-dealing gangs

Change law to beggar drug-dealing gangs

The National Party wants to revamp the Proceeds of Crime Act to give police a tougher weapon in the fight against organised crime.

National's Police spokesman Tony Ryall told a public meeting in Waikanae today that he will introduce a Member's bill to change the law to strengthen police powers for combating drug dealers and gangs.

"If someone is riding a $50,000 Harley-Davidson and has two Porsches in the garage, but has no visible form of income, where is the money coming from?

"Chances are, from the misery of drugs," says Mr Ryall.

National's move follows a 52% increase in non-cannabis drug offences in the last two years. This jump has been linked to the burgeoning use of methamphetamine, or 'P'.

"Police tell us the 'P' market in New Zealand is run by the gangs. One gang, according to police estimates, has property and holdings in excess of $10 million," says Mr Ryall.

"We can lock up their leaders and henchmen, only to have another gang member fill the gap and their illegal businesses to continue.

"The key to breaking the gangs is to seize their money and assets," he says.

"National wants to make convicted drug dealers and gangs show ALL their property has been acquired through legal means, or we'll take it all off them.

"Currently the law really only applies to the assets linked to the actual charge before the Court, with the Police having to prove the assets helped criminal behaviour or were purchased with the proceeds of criminal activities.

"National's bill will reverse the onus, deeming all that person's or gang's property to be the proceeds of drug dealing and other illegal activity.

"If they can't prove it's clean money, the Crown should confiscate it," Mr Ryall says.

"So far this year, not a single dollar has been confiscated from convicted drug dealers, although police have a 'hold' on around a million dollars of assets.

"The last big seizure from a gang was in the late 1990's when it was reported that $627,000 of property and cash was confiscated from members of the Tribesman motorcycle gang. The assets included four Harley-Davidson motorbikes and $406,000 in cash," says Mr Ryall.

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