The hot, dry weather may have provided good conditions for cannabis growers this year but it hasn't prevented Police in Bay of Plenty from raining on their parade.
In excess of 20,000 cannabis plants have been either recovered or destroyed during a major operation across the Bay of Plenty.
Over a period of four weeks police targeted primarily rural areas locating outdoor grows ranging from a handful of plants to in excess of 700 plants. This phase was coupled with 169 urban and rural warrants leading to 99 arrests and netting other drugs, cash, firearms and stolen property.
The operation took place over all four areas of the District - Eastern Bay of Plenty, Western Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Taupo and those arrested are now facing a variety of charges.
During one warrant in Taneatua police recovered 1200 grams of precursor products valued at $50,000 and capable of producing $225,000 to $337,000 worth of methamphetamine. Over $40,000 cash was also located during this warrant along with methamphetamine, LSD tablets, a firearm and ammunition.
The head of the operation, Detective Senior Sergeant Lindsay Pilbrow, says the preventative benefits of this operation are significant. The estimated saving in terms of social harm (see footnote) is approximately $52 million.
"There is no debate to be had; drugs are a major social issue, especially in regard to our youth. Smashing tinnie houses and removing other opportunities to cause social harm is going to have an effect. Several of the warrants we carried out during this operation were linked to organised criminal groups involved in large scale production, distribution and sale of illicit drugs and the slightest dent in operations can have a major impact on their trade."
DSS Pilbrow also praises the local communities for their continuous support in tackling drugs and other offending.
"The public should view this as positive steps by police and a demonstration our commitment to combating and disrupting illicit drug activity in our communities. Public information is invaluable and has been a major contributor to this and other operations. Whether you want to speak to us directly or anonymously you will be doing a great service to the community, especially our younger generation, by passing on any information or suspicions that you have about drug-dealing."
If you have information about any drug activity you should contact your local police. Alternatively information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111
Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 027 234 8256.
Area breakdown of search warrants
50 search warrants executed
Western Bay of Plenty
45 search warrants executed
Eastern Bay of Plenty
33 search warrants executed
41 search warrants executed
Footnote: Social harm is the estimated financial cost of the cannabis trade on health, education, employment, the benefits system and so on.