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Gangster’s Paradise: New Zealand’s Deadly Escalation of Organised Crime by Jared Savage

Corruption, drugs, guns, money, turf wars – Gangster’s Paradise has it all! I was delighted when Jared Savage’s new book arrived on my desk. Three years ago I reviewed his riveting book, Gangland: New Zealand’s Underworld of Organised Crime. I described it as shockingly addictive and was left wanting more.

While Gangland explored the evolution of organised crime in Aotearoa, Gangster’s Paradise examines the deadly escalation of gang-related crime in New Zealand. Organised crime in New Zealand is a global business now, says Jared.

Within a relatively short time, the scale of organised crime has increased considerably – more drugs, shootings and corruption. Jared says it’s been driven by the arrival of gangs as ‘501’ deportees from Australia since 2014.

Written into law as section 501 – a rushed amendment to the Migration Act imposed a character test on visa applicants and non-citizens. Visas were automatically cancelled if they failed the test because they had a substantial criminal record. Since then, thousands of 501s, many who have lived almost their entire lives in Australia have been deported ‘home’, he explains.

Among the 501s were Australian bikies who were targeted for deportation because of their senior positions within gangs. The law change has deeply affected New Zealand ever since, changing the entire pattern of organised crime and police work, he says.

“The likes of the Mongols and Comancheros have brought a more professional edge to the gang scene. They have better connections with international drug syndicates, better criminal tradecraft and encrypted communications, and are more willing to use firearms to enforce their will,” he says.

In response, established local gangs who have dominated for many years have had to boost their efforts. The result? A dramatic escalation of organised crime.

What I like most about Jared’s writing is the in-depth storytelling behind the news headlines. For example, the gunfight at a five-star hotel in Auckland, a corrupt port worker and the gang which took over a rural town.

Jared Savage is an award-winning investigative reporter for The New Zealand Herald. He lives in Tauranga with his family.

Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Harper Collins


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