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Guns, artwork seized from Chrisco mansion in piracy crackdown

New Zealand police say 76 officers, including members of the Armed Offenders Squad, found illegal firearms in their raid against alleged internet pirate Kim Dotcom.

Jock Anderson and Matt Nippert
Fri, 20 Jan 2012

Expensive artworks and illegal firearms are among items seized following an early morning raid on the former Chrisco mansion.

The raid is part of a US-led crackdown on internet piracy.

Detective Inspector Grant Wornald of the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand said in a press conference this afternoon the 6:45am raids at three Auckland premises involved 76 officers.

Mr Wornald said elements of the Armed Offenders Squad were employed, and the principal address – the Chrisco mansion at Coatsville – presented a challenge to surround due to a sophisticated alarm system.

The raids were part of a US-led operation aimed at smashing file-sharing website Megaupload, and the websites founder and owner Kim Dotcom was one of four arrested in the operation.

A total of seven people have had provisional arrest warrants issued as part of the operation, but Mr Wornald said the remaining three were not in New Zealand.

Mr Wornald said two firearms, described as shotguns with barrels too short to be legal in New Zealand, were recovered. New Zealand law would classify the weapons as pistols.

Other items seized included computer equipment, expensive artworks, a number of expensive luxury automobiles and funds seized from financial institutions. The National Business Review understands these funds are comprised of about $10 million in government bonds.

Mr Wornald said four agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been in New Zealand for the past two weeks assisting police with the planning of the operation, but the FBI agents were not involved in the raids themselves.

Mr Wornald said no resistance was offered and four arrests were made, with the alleged criminals due to appear shortly in the North Shore District Court.

The former Chrisco mansion was the main target of the operation, but police also simultaneously raided a residential address in Orakei and a solicitor's office. 

Jock Anderson and Matt Nippert
Fri, 20 Jan 2012
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Guns, artwork seized from Chrisco mansion in piracy crackdown