Bust nets $1m worth of cannabis


A major cannabis growing operation and large scale receiving ring was busted in pre-Christmas raids at Waihi.

Police and members of the Armed Offenders Squad netted about 60 items of stolen property from the Waihi and Katikati area on Thursday and about $945,000 worth of cannabis on Friday.

Waihi police Sergeant Dave Litton described Thursday's discovery as an "Aladdin's cave" of stolen goods.

"Among items recovered were a BMW car, a rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and ammunition, televisions, iPods, cellphones and jewellery that had been taken from homes in the Waihi and Katikati areas over recent months."

Mr Litton said the task for investigators now was to try and marry up recovered items with their owners.

To do that officers would be using details, such as those recorded on Operation SNAP (www.SNAP.org.nz) and provided to police by the victims.

Mr Litton said it appeared the occupants of the property had been involved in a receiving operation - praying on fellow residents in the local community.

On Friday police found about 630 cannabis plants and eight trays of seedlings, in an indoor growing operation under a rural Waihi house.

"It's very hard to put an accurate figure on the value of the haul without careful examination of all the plants. None of them had reached full maturity and the tallest was about 1.5m tall but if they had been allowed to become fully grown and you worked on a conservative estimated yield of half a pound per plant with a potential value of $1500, you're looking at an again, potential yield, worth $945,000." Mr Litton said two men have been arrested in relation to the separate discoveries with further arrests likely.

"These discoveries, each in their own way should bring a fair amount of Christmas cheer to our local community," Mr Litton said.

"Each of these finds mean a significant disruption to the criminal enterprises involved and will go a long way in preventing further victims, be those people whose homes are broken into by thieves wanting to buy drugs or the parents and families of loved ones trapped in a cycle of illicit drug use."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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