New Zealand busts Asian drug-money laundering gang

The raid was part of year-long probe targeting Asian organised crime in NZ.

Wellington: New Zealand police investigating Asian organised crime raided a money exchange company in Auckland on Thursday, claiming it was a multimillion dollar operation to launder illegal drug proceeds.

Two people were arrested and police seized their assets, including a house valued at NZD 2 million (USD 1.4 million) and two vehicles, the firm`s bank accounts, three firearms and NZD 40,000 cash.

A police statement linked the raid with the seizure of methamphetamine, worth NZD 5 million, and the arrest of six other men last week.

"Police believe the financial firm has assisted the drug ring to launder money by transferring large amounts of drug money through various accounts, and moving it internationally to disguise its origin," said detective inspector Steve Wood of the Organised and Financial Crime Agency.

He said the Auckland-based criminals were linked to other criminal networks in China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Wood said the raid was part of Taskforce Acacia, a year-long investigation targeting Asian organised crime in New Zealand, which had seen more than NZD 6 million worth of methamphetamine and the precursor drug ContacNT seized, along with 21 guns and NZD 400,000.

Sixteen people have been charged with drug-dealing offences.

The pair arrested on Thursday, a 26-year-old company director and a finance manager, 27, were jointly charged with laundering NZD 1.9 million over the past year.

IANS

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