Region's second biggest cannabis and meth hauls
Police have seized five Northland properties worth millions of dollars as part of their crackdown on drug dealers in the region.
The properties, including a block of land in the Bay of Islands with beach frontage, have been placed under a restraining order and cannot be sold while people facing charges are dealt with by the courts. If those people are convicted the properties can be sold by the Crown. The land and houses were seized under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
The annual drug recovery operation, this year named Jasmin, also netted the second highest number of cannabis plants destroyed by Northland police. Officers ripped out or sprayed a whopping 67,191 plants up on last year's total of 46,224 plants.
Head of the annual Northland drug blitz Detective Senior Sergeant John Miller said drug dealing and organised crime were money-motivated crimes and the legislation, which stripped criminals of money and assets, was a real deterrent that would be used more.
"One of our aims is to identify commercial growing operations where we hold persons responsible. Part of our enquiries is to find out who owns the land where the cannabis is being grown and place restraining orders on land and properties clearly used for any illicit drug trade."
The legislation allows for the restraint and forfeiture of assets acquired or derived from the proceeds of crime. It also provides for the restraint and forfeiture of assets used during the commission of a crime. Land with multiple owners could also be placed under a restraining order, Mr Miller said.
Houses at Hikurangi, Kaitaia and Moerewa were seized, along with a house and land at Haruru Falls and a 24ha block at Te Tii with beach access.
Two vehicles- an Audi and a Subaru - valued at $60,000, were also seized under the legislation.
A good growing season combined with excellent information from the public enabled police to destroy huge commercial crops, particularly in the Kaitaia area where nearly half the plants were destroyed.
"We got huge help from the community, with use of the Crimestoppers number (0800 555-111) getting better every year. People are feeling confident to use it and they also see action taken."
Two methamphetamine labs were also discovered. One contained 17 ounces of pure methamphetamine with a potential street value of nearly $500,000. It is the second biggest meth seizure by Northland police.
At the same property near Kaikohe, police also found 492g of pseudoephedrine, enough to make $350,000 worth of methamphetamine.
During the operation 112 people were arrested. Police recovered 21 firearms, four stolen vehicles, two stolen quad bikes, a stolen boat, nearly $50,000 cash and $14,300 worth of stolen tools.
"I'd like to be in a position in years to come where these figures start going down so we are actually reducing the amount of cannabis and meth out there," Mr Miller said.
While carrying out the drug blitz police issued 314 traffic offence notices at checkpoints. The checkpoints also led to the discovery of people with undersize and excess paua in the Kaitaia area. Four referrals were made to fisheries officers.