Otago Daily Times 23 May 2016
More than 500 people were arrested and over 130,000 cannabis plants were seized and destroyed by police as part of this year’s national cannabis and crime operation.
During the six-month operation, police also seized and destroyed almost 80kg of dried cannabis.
Helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, with assistance from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, were used to spot and destroy cannabis crops during the cannabis growing season, police said.
This year was the second highest recovery rate of cannabis in the past nine years.
Detective inspector Craig Scott said the operation targeted those who cultivate and deal cannabis as the gateway drug to other criminal activities.
“Commercial cannabis cultivation cannot be looked at on its own, it has links to much wider crime,” Mr Scott said.
“This year police placed a strong emphasis on seizing the assets gained from drug dealing and assets used to assist and enable the criminal activity.
“As a result of this there is in excess of $4 million worth of assets currently under investigation or restraint following a court order. This includes land, houses, cash and vehicles,” he said.
Operation Dee saw 173 firearms also seized which was the largest number seized since the 2011/2012 operation.
Mr Scott said the number of firearms found with people associated with drug dealing was a concern.
Especially as many were identified as being stolen and approximately 90% of the weapons weren’t secured correctly, with ammunition found nearby.
Police estimates they have prevented in excess of $500 million of socio-economic harm from reaching the community by destroying the cannabis plants.
Operation Dee saw:
*Approximately 132,000 cannabis plants destroyed
*572 people arrested
*173 firearms seized
* Estimated $309,966 stolen property recovered
*80kg of dried cannabis plant material seized or destroyed
*4 Methamphetamine laboratories located and almost 1kg of methamphetamine seized or destroyed.
*195 ecstasy tabs, 633 LSD tabs and 56 morphine sulphate tabs were destroyed.
The success of this operation reaffirms the commitment by police to tackle the ongoing drug issues in the community, police said.
“People in the community and family members are affected by this offending, we encourage people to contact addiction services where necessary, whether it be on behalf of themselves or a whanau member,” Mr Scott said.
“We can’t solve this by ourselves, it comes down to a joint effort from police and the community.”
Planning for next year’s operation has already begun.
Anyone with information about any form of criminal activity, including cannabis cultivation and drug dealing, is encouraged to contact their local police station or anonymously through CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.