Police say talk that a New Zealand gang is considering setting up in the Cook Islands is merely that – an allegation.
A letter to the editor this week says people wearing New Zealand gang patches have been seen on Rarotonga leading to speculation that they’re gang members scoping the place as a possible chapter headquarters.
But Police Commissioner Maara Tetava says Cook Islanders and visitors to the country shouldn’t be alarmed by such allegations.
“Rest assured the safety of everyone will always be paramount to us and other agencies of government,” he said.
Tetava says over the years police have been aware, and continue to be aware, of visitors to our country who have had some criminal and or gang involvement in other countries.
“We have dealt with these on a case-by-case basis in consultation with our border agencies and our regional and international partners”.
He said it’s illegal in the Cook Islands to participate in an organised criminal group.
Tetava warned: “If we uncover evidence to substantiate criminal charges against anyone under our current law, we will prosecute.”
“At this time we are addressing this and other border control and criminal issues in consultation with our partners”.
He said visitors who intend to visit the Cook Islands can do so provided they comply with immigration entry requirements. He says some pre-empt this process by declaring their records and seeking permission to enter prior to their travel date.
“People who have criminal records overseas are required to declare these on their immigration arrival cards as is the case in other countries” adds Tetava.
“With that right of entry comes an obligation to comply with the laws of our country”.