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Cannabis growers hit hard in city-wide blitz

Last updated 05:00 11/03/2014
Operation Lucy

UP IN SMOKE: Police seize and burn 2000 cannabis plants in Operation Lucy

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Police have seized and destroyed $2 million worth of cannabis plants discovered in areas across Auckland.

They were assisted by the New Zealand Air Force last week during Operation Lucy when officers were lowered into cannabis plots by an Iroquois helicopter.

More than 2000 cannabis plants were found growing in forests, swamps and rural property and crops were found across Auckland including large hauls from Muriwai, Piha, Kaipara Flats, Helensville and Great Barrier Island.

Police will not comment further on how much was found in specific areas because of the risk of copycat behaviour.

Sixteen search warrants were executed and seven men and one woman aged between 29 to 58 have been charged with cultivation of cannabis.

Police say more arrests are likely and similar recovery operations will be ongoing across Auckland in the coming weeks and months.

Operation head Detective Sergeant Callum McNeil is pleased with results so far.

"Some of the plants that we seized had obviously been growing for quite some time and I have no doubt that this has dealt a real blow to the criminal element.

"The harm that cannabis causes to the wider community can't be underestimated - we know that the supply and abuse of cannabis has a direct influence on crimes like intimidation, burglaries, robberies and serious violence."

This leads to innocent people becoming victims of crime, he says.

"By removing and destroying these plants we hope to prevent this crime from happening in the first place and the arrests we've made so far should send a message to the criminals who grow and deal in cannabis - you will be caught."

Part of the operation's success is owed to information provided by the public and Mr McNeill extends a big "thanks very much" from police to those members of the public who phoned with information.

"Even though it's getting to the end of the growing season, growers are still tending to their plots, and again, anyone who notices something that doesn't look quite right, for example lights in the bush after dark or people in places that you wouldn't expect anyone to be, is encouraged to contact police or the Crimestoppers organisation anonymously on 0800 555 111."

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