A Police commitment to reduce the availability of cannabis in New Zealand has been emphasised with the results from Operation Ella, a successful operation against growers and suppliers, said the Assistant Commissioner for Crime Reduction and Public Safety Peter Marshall.
The operation carried out between November 2003 and April 2004 resulted in:
• an estimated 115,000 plants recovered or destroyed, along with
• 92 kilograms of dry cannabis plant material, with a conservative street value of $500,000
• 619 offenders being apprehended on a range of charges,
• in excess of $300,000 worth of stolen property being recovered, and
• 76 firearms seized
• seven clan labs detected
• 71 grams of methamphetamine seized
"These results speak for themselves and reinforce our commitment to reducing the availability of cannabis and other drugs in our communities," said Mr Marshall.
"The operation was very much targeted at disrupting organised criminals. The fact that we found seven clan labs and seized 76 firearms is indicative of the serious nature of the offending involved.
"I congratulate the operational team for not only recovering and destroying significant amounts of cannabis but also for disrupting methamphetamine manufacturing operations.
"While I commend the work of the officers and staff involved in this operation I would also like to thank members of the public who have made a major contribution to the success of this operation by providing critical information that has lead to offenders being caught.
The issue of drugs is a community concern and Police cannot achieve such success without the help of the public."
The 619 offenders were charged with offences such as cultivation of cannabis, possession for supply, possession of firearms, theft, burglary, receiving, manufacturing Class A and B controlled drugs, possession of precursor chemicals for the manufacture of methamphetamine, ecstasy, LSD and cannabis oil.
Property recovered included an earth moving digger, cars, boats, quad bikes and assorted property.
Mr Marshall said the range of charges clearly illustrated that people involved in one line of drugs were also operating in others either as growers and manufacturers or suppliers and distributors.
Police will continue efforts to reduce the availability of cannabis and other drugs to make our communities safer, said Mr Marshall.