Police recover biggest cannabis haul in five years

New Zealand police discovered more that $300 million worth of cannabis during the 2007 to 2008 growing season, the largest haul in five years.

Police destroyed about 124,000 plants, 25 per cent more than the previous season, National cannabis crime operations national coordinator Detective Senior Sergeant Scott McGill said.

They also destroyed 216kg of dried cannabis and found nine methamphetamine laboratories.

Police conducted more than 640 searches. These led to 780 people arrested, 147 firearms seized and $439,000 worth of stolen property recovered, which were record numbers.

These figures showed how targeting cannabis helped in the fight against crime in general as offenders cultivated, distributed and used cannabis as a gateway drug to other criminal activities, he said.

Mr McGill attributed the success to good flying weather and targeted flying using intelligence gathered throughout the year.

The amount of cannabis found was estimated at $336,144,690, and destroying it halted socioeconomic harm to the community, Mr McGill said.

Police were committed and dedicated to reducing the harmful effects of illicit drugs in our community, which the success of the operation showed, he said.

"The operation would not have been such a success without the assistance of the public, who make a major contribution by providing valuable information to the operation each year, which leads to plots being located and offenders arrested."

Police were already planning next year's operation and Mr McGill encouraged anyone with information about cannabis cultivation to contact their local police station in confidence.

"Police intend to continue their efforts to reduce the availability of cannabis and associated drugs within New Zealand, resulting in safer communities."

- NZPA

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