Police seize 46,000 cannabis plants in Northland

Police have seized 46,000 cannabis plants in an annual operation in Northland. Photo / NZ Police
Police have seized 46,000 cannabis plants in an annual operation in Northland. Photo / NZ Police

Northland police have seized more than 46,000 cannabis plants during their annual crime and cannabis operation.

In one good haul they located a large indoor cannabis-growing operation at Taipa containing 526 plants in various stages of growth. This operation was estimated to be making nearly $2 million a year.

A 44-year-old man has appeared in the Kaitaia District Court on charges of cultivating cannabis, possession for supply of cannabis and possession of equipment for cultivating cannabis.

Northland police criminal investigations manager Detective Inspector Kevin Burke says information received through Crimestoppers led to police locating some large growing operations, including the one at Taipa.

``It is encouraging to see the public contacting police or calling Crimestoppers when they notice suspicious activity or have information about illicit drug operations. This is about the public taking a stand and helping police to reduce crime and stop these drugs harming the community.''

A total of 46,224 cannabis plants were located during Operation Lucy, along with 37 grams of methamphetamine, 40 firearms, $10,525 cash, stolen property including a motorbike worth $4000 and a trailer worth $9000.

They arrested 92 people who are facing a raft of drugs charges.

Police are using the Criminal Proceeds Act as a deterrent to go after the assets of those who choose to gain financially from this criminal activity. The profit they make from drug crimes ultimately deprives the Northland community as a whole.

Mr Burke says locating the commercial cannabis operation at Taipa will put a large dent in the illicit drug trade.

``This is not long after we located a large cannabis growing operation in Whangarei that contained 320 plants, so police are making in-roads into this crime and will continue to do so.''

Mr Burke says cannabis does cause serious harm to the community, particularly young people as it affects their developing brains.

The Drug Harm Index shows more than $100 million in social harm is caused by the amount of cannabis found in Northland.

The harms related to drug use include a wide range of tangible costs such as crime, lost work output, health service use and other diverted resources. It also includes psychological or intangible costs, such as reduced quality or length of life.

Mr Burke said this year's crime and cannabis operation involved a number of police staff from across the district including Road Policing, CIB, and Public Safety Teams.

The assistance of Road Policing staff meant staff policed roads in areas that were not frequently visited. As a result they picked up 10 high risk drivers and issued 409 tickets for various traffic infringements.

- APNZ

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