Police look to weed out growers

By Roger Moroney

THE PLOT THICKENS: Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Foster with cannabis plants uncovered at the back of a Central Hawke's Bay property last summer. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
THE PLOT THICKENS: Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Foster with cannabis plants uncovered at the back of a Central Hawke's Bay property last summer. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Farmers, hunters and trampers are being urged to report any suspicious activity they may come across in isolated areas of Hawke's Bay and the greater Eastern District as police gear up to battle the cannabis growing season.

"It is under way," Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Foster of the Eastern Organised Crime Unit said yesterday.

"Cannabis crops are being tended at this time of year and there are often signs of activity that cause suspicion."

He said most growers tended to use rural farmland or bush in often-isolated and hard-to-access areas.

The movement of strange vehicles moving through rural backroads, and often parked up at roadsides, as well as unusual lights in bush and farm areas at night often gave away the activities of cannabis growers.

"We need help from the public to point us in the direction of these drug cultivations and to bring offenders before the courts," Mr Foster said.

In past cases farmers had been oblivious to scattered cannabis plots being set up on their land and had stumbled upon them by chance.

Other plots had been discovered by hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who ventured into isolated bush regions.

Some had also been found amid residential gardens hidden from the road.

Mr Foster said it was incumbent on everyone to report any suspicious activity to police.

"Drug offending drives other crime such as burglary and vehicle theft and this affects many people within the Eastern District."

Earlier this year police staged Operation Turner across Hawke's Bay and Gisborne that resulted in 16 arrests after 19 properties were searched and more than 170 cannabis plants, dried cannabis and "tinnies" were uncovered.

Two years ago police launched a major cannabis offensive called Operation Linda across the Bay and East Cape that led to 15,077 plants being destroyed, 144 arrests made and nine firearms found.

Police said indoor cultivation would also be taking place and while country people were asked to look for rural signs city residents were asked to look for the urban ones.

People should contact their local police station or information could also be left anonymously on Crimestoppers - 0800 555 111.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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