Grower gets to keep $4125 cash found in bust

A purpose-built indoor cannabis operation was powered by a commercial generator capable of supplying electricity to 10 homes.

Michael Bouman, 45, paid $42,228 cash to rent the generator over 17 months, to power a Taipa dope growing shed. On the day that the commercial operation was shut down, police found 526 cannabis plants. These included 166 mature plants that would have yielded three ounces - $750 to $1000 - per plant. Three ounces, Judge Russell Collins said, was a conservative estimate.

In jailing Bouman for four years, Judge Collins said the operation was commercial, a "drug dealing enterprise on a significant scale".

Bouman was busted after a tip-off during police Operation Lucy in which more than 46,000 cannabis plants, 40 guns and 37g of methamphetamine were seized in Northland.

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His drug cultivation was the biggest haul during that operation.

He had pleaded guilty in Whangarei District Court to charges of cultivating cannabis, possession of cannabis plant for supply, and possession of equipment for cultivating cannabis.

Bouman was sentenced to four years in prison on all charges.

There was some good news for Bouman - his Nissan Terrano had been seized during the March 2014 bust and so had $4125 cash. Bouman got to keep both - the vehicle would be useful for his rehabilitation when he got out of jail, Judge Collins said. As for the cash, the judge could not be satisfied it came from the drug growing enterprise.

At Bouman's Taylor Rd property, a large corrugated iron and plywood shed had been converted into a purpose-built cannabis farm and divided into four separate rooms.

During sentencing, Judge Collins outlined in detail how the drug dealing operation was set up and the fact Bouman had little alternative to pleading guilty because the case against him would have been overwhelming.

A diesel-powered generator kept in one room with batteries were used to power the cannabis cultivation.

"The generator was a very large commercial model capable of supplying 80 kilovolts of power sufficient to power up to 10 standard households," Judge Collins said.

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Drying racks were constructed and a clothes dryer installed for the harvested cannabis.

Judge Collins said each of the four rooms was professionally wired with electrical systems leading back to the main switchboard and controlled via a timing system.

Also located throughout the growing shed were cannabis growing equipment that had not been installed which indicated Bouman intended to expand the operation, he said.

"The overall assessment that has to be made is one of criminality of a drug dealing operation and this was a large and determined effort to harvest a commercial and significantly commercial amount of cannabis plant material," the judge said.