West Coast cannabis haul plummets 43 per cent

By Teresa Smith

The amount of cannabis seized on the West Coast in this year's annual cannabis operation netted just 43 percent of what police pounced on last year. Photo / File
The amount of cannabis seized on the West Coast in this year's annual cannabis operation netted just 43 percent of what police pounced on last year. Photo / File

This year's annual cannabis operation on the Coast netted less than half the number of cannabis plants found last year when police used helicopters in the search.

Police announced yesterday they had seized 1300 cannabis plants across the Coast and would charge seven people in relation to the operation.

They made no mention of any methamphetamine finds.

The amount of cannabis seized was just 43 percent of what police pounced on last year.

In March 2016, 3000 plants were recovered across the Coast and 13 men charged. Police used an air force NH90 helicopter to reach difficult to access areas.

A police spokesman said today that the Tasman district commander had this year decided to use a "targeted, focused deployment model that did not include an aerial recovery phase".

He said police used various tools and tactics to detect and recover cannabis at all times, not just during the annual cannabis recovery operation.

"In some situations helicopters are used, but this is not necessarily appropriate in all circumstances."

Police made operational decisions about the best use of resources on a case-by-case basis, he said.

The spokesman confirmed that some of the plants recovered were on Department of Conservation (DOC) land. Over 400 plants were discovered at one public plot.

This year's operation began two weeks ago. Thirty police staff have been involved.

It included visits to 50 sites on public land and a dozen visits to urban and rural addresses.

The spokesman said police were yet to conclude the investigation.

"Physical and photographed evidence is still being catalogued. Those details will be presented in court once the prosecution files are completed."

- Westport News

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