Dozens of fake driving licences and a false passport were
allegedly used by a drug ring to hide luxury cars, millions of
dollars in cash, firearms and property.
Two senior Head Hunter gang members were arrested on Monday
after a covert investigation into methamphetamine
manufacture. Police allege the false identification was used
to conceal the profits of the illicit drug trade.
Detectives found a machine used to forge New Zealand driving
licences and dozens of drivers' licences used as aliases for
seven of the eight people arrested this week in Operation
The fake identification was allegedly used to rent storage
facilities to conceal cash and cars, set up bank accounts and
safety deposit boxes, rent a boat mooring, obtain a false
passport, purchase property - even book a dinner.
Detective Inspector Bruce Good said the false identities were
to help members of the group to avoid detection, but also to
hide assets from the police who can seize them under powerful
"We've found 16 storage facilities and finding more each day.
One of them hadn't been touched since 2011 and it had
$300,000 inside," Mr Good told the Herald.
"We say they've used false ID to open storage [facilities] or
purchase assets, like a vehicle, in someone else's name. So
when the police come along, they're hoping that we don't find
out about the false identity and take the assets. It's one
way of trying to get around the asset forfeiture laws."
The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act came into force in 2009
and essentially forces someone to prove how an asset was paid
for - even if they were acquitted on criminal charges.
More than $3 million of assets were seized in Operation
Genoa, including $2 million cash, luxury cars including a
Ferrari, Porsche and a Maserati, a 9m launch, five properties
and gold and silver bars.
Two of the eight individuals arrested were senior patched
Head Hunters Michael Joseph Cavanagh, 40, and 49-year-old
David Gerrard O'Carroll. O'Carroll is in Auckland Hospital
after being bitten by police dogs when trying to flee in the
raids on his home.
The others arrested are Shannon Kay Stevens, Peter Matthew
Shaw, Deborah Anne Henry, Victoria Louise Cavanagh, Lisa
Marie Ryan and Nigel John Bowker. They face a range of
charges including manufacturing methamphetamine, money
laundering, unlawful possession of a restricted weapon,
obtaining false documents and participating in an organised
Mr Good, who has overseen the largest drug inquiries in New
Zealand, said Operation Genoa showed the demand for
methamphetamine was "substantial and isn't going away".
"Let's not kid ourselves," Mr Good said. "These aren't the
only people manufacturing. That concerns me."
- Jared Savage, NZ Herald