Inside New Zealand’s changing gang scene – from Aussie imports to lives of luxury

The New Zealand Herald is bringing back some of the best premium stories of 2020. Today we take an inside look at life in New Zealand’s gangs.

Inside the 'uncontrolled growth' of the gang scene

The gang scene has exploded with new faces and rapid growth, with new data showing members now number more than 7000 for the first time – an increase of 50 per cent in just three years.

The arrival of disenfranchised gangsters deported from Australia has turned the New Zealand gang scene on its head.

A Weeked Herald investigation looks into the “uncontrolled growth”.

Gangster paradise: Inside Mongrel Mob member's life of luxury

Two years ago, Mongrel Mob member Joe Edmonds was deported from Australia to New Zealand. Now the muscular Edmonds is called Josef Armani Heart and wears designer clothes, eats at fancy restaurants and lives in a palatial home in Thailand with water views. His ostenstatious lifestyle is proudly on display on social media, as an example of a generational culture shift in the gang world dubbed the “Nike Bikie”.

A look at the Mongrel Mob member now living the dream in Thailand.

Inside rise and fall of Killer Beez boss

Even the judge who sentenced Josh Masters to 10 years in prison recognised the genuine leadership and business acumen. The rapper tapped into US hip hop culture to grow an army – the Killer Beez. But less than 12 months after being released from prison, Masters lay in a hospital paralysed and one of his closest friends was accused of putting him there.

Jared Savage reports.

'People I hang around with kill people for that'

A subtle shift in gang hierarchy from traditional ‘chapter-and-pad’ to a more modern ‘brand loyalty’ is considered by police to be one reason behind the fast growth of gang numbers in the past few years. The success of those cells within each chapter comes down to the intent and leadership of their captain. Just like Stacy Paora, the Head Hunters’ million-dollar man.

A Herald reports looks at how changes in gangs led to ‘uncontrolled growth’.

Extraordinary heist: Suspicious shipping container linked to gang vanishes from port

Police and Customs in New Zealand have long warned of the threat of corruption posed by organised crime, which investigators believe has accelerated with the arrival of deported Australian gang members. The Weekend Herald can now reveal a shipping container – with a large amount of drugs suspected to be hidden inside – disappeared from the wharves of the Ports of Auckland before Customs could check it. The extraordinary heist was achieved with the help of a port supervisor, who had $90,000 hidden in a shoebox at home.

The Herald exclusive reveals the “suspicious circumstances” around the disappearance of the shipping container.


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