Motueka community concerned about public display of gang patches

The Mongrel Mob Barbarians settled for the first time at the top of the South Island – the police think they are looking for the premium price that methamphetamine sales get there.

But the small town of Motueka is forming a bond to stop the rise of gangs.

The first step is to forbid the patches, but there are still meetings to come, to find out what else needs to be done.

Until recently, the area remained relatively unaffected by this gang, said Tasman Police Detective Paul Borrell

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The Mongrel Mob Barbarians was a chapter of the east coast of the North Island, which migrates to the south.

He believed that the higher methamphetamine price in the area had made it an attractive place for gangs to start a store.

"It can be caused by a lack of supply, or for some reason people are willing to pay more, but from a criminal perspective there is more money to make, it is about $ 200 on average more expensive than on other places, "said Borrell.

In July there were numerous observations of people wearing Mongrel Mob insignia on High St in Motueka.

"The unusual aspect with these guys is that they are on motorbikes … they are pretty visual, you see them in their patches, which is quite unusual, pretty new to Nelson."

There were about five members in total along with a number of "hangers-on," he said.

But seeing patched members in the community alarmed the local population, so the community fought back.

Richmond Police Senior Sergeant Mike Wardle said the past few weeks the incidents of people wearing gang patches in public had been stopped in Motueka – because companies connected the patch.

"The community decided they did not like it, and started telling people when they got into their stores that they could not wear their band patch … that seems to have stopped," Wardle said.

Although there were fewer observations in August, the issue was discussed with the police at a meeting of the Community Board in Motueka on Tuesday.

"The community board have asked us to talk to them about what we do, things we have introduced."

Motueka Community Board Chairman Brent Maru received about 20 messages in the past month.

The board worked with council and police to monitor the situation, although Maru had not heard anything about observations in the last two or three weeks – what he said was "fantastic".

He believed a community-wide approach to turnaround.

"It's a matter of community, it's not a police problem, it's not a problem for the council," he said. "It is a collective responsibility."

The biggest problem for Maru was wearing gangbards in public.

"In a city where I have a family, do I want to walk through the city and see patched gang members?"

"When I walk through the city and see no patched members, there are other people who engage in illegal activities? Absolutely – I just do not know and they do not stand out. "

Tasman District Councillor Paul Hawkes had seen several gang members walking around several times.

" For me it is a question of perception, it is intimidation. If they did not wear their badges, I doubt if there would be a problem.

"That encourages people to solve their heckles from the beginning and to feel intimidated."

Hawkes was open to meet with the people in question, to clarify their ambitions in Motueka.

"That would stop any speculation and rumors."

"Their intentions may be honorable, but with previous experiences of gangs in other places there is always that criminal element."

Hawkes said while the situation needed to be addressed, it took the focus away from a more urgent issue.

"Motueka is currently very full of drugs, I prefer to take the attention away from gangs and focus on getting Motueka drugs- free.

" They are the problem in Motueka, they are the issue in the end of the story in New Zealand.

"If you can come up with a magic bullet where you can eliminate the drug scene, you will eliminate most of the criminal activity."

Sunday Star Times

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