More than $200,000 of cannabis has been kept off the street after police's annual drug raid.

Fifteen people would be facing charges after police discovered between 2000 and 2500 cannabis plants throughout the Southern police district during Operation Jasmin, Southern district police's annual cannabis crop bust, Detective Sergeant Malcolm Inglis said.

"We have stopped somewhere between $200,000 to $300,000 of cannabis from reaching the street," he said.

The plants would have been destined for the illegal drugs' market and their seizure would also have cut into crime, such as theft and burglary, which fuelled users habits, he said.


"The people [growing the crops] don't care whether it goes to 13 or 35-year-olds," he said.

Police executed 14 search warrants during the raid and 15 offenders would be facing charges as a result, Mr Inglis said.

"Some [of the plants], we believe, are linked to gangs, but proving it is a difficulty," he said.

The operation involved 18 hours spent searching for crops on a Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopter.

Police had searched from Waitati to Middlemarch to Southland and the Otago Peninsula, he said.

"We found some in behind houses to major bush areas," he said.

"All tend to be very well hidden."

In the past, police had encountered plots protected by traps and other devices to prevent detection. However, officers had not encountered such operations this year, he said.

Police utilised a combination of tips from the public and spotting the plots from the air to discover the plants.

"We have had a good couple of days," he said, after the three-day raid.

"We have somewhere between 2000 and 2500 plants we have removed from circulation."

The operation was ongoing and and police hope to unearth more cannabis cultivation in the coming weeks.

This year's haul was particularly "healthy" owing to a strong growing season because of the dry and hot summer, he said.

"The aim here is to stop some community harm -- stopping this from getting out into the community is our aim," Mr Inglis said.

One person was arrested yesterday in relation to cultivation and more arrests and summons would follow, he said

ODT pd