More than 7000 cannabis plants have been seized in a police operation in Central District.
The seizure was part of a national campaign dubbed Operation Lucy, which recovered 105,000 cannabis plants, $195,000 of stolen property, seized 112 firearms and resulted in 640 arrests.
In Central District, 7415 plants were found, 21 firearms seized and 107 people arrested.
Of the plants recovered, 5297 were from an aerial operation, with the remaining 2118 coming from search warrants.
Whanganui was the largest source of plants, the site of more than 2000 of those recovered.
Manawatu, including Tararua and Horowhenua, had the smallest amount of plants recovered at 424, but was the site of the most search warrants, at 33.
Officers also located and recovered 26.5 kilograms of dried cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy tablets, and 53 grams of methamphetamine.
Central District Detective Inspector Keith Borrell said the plant haul was slightly down on the previous year, but the focus of the operation was to remove the harm illicit drugs and organised crime caused to communities.
This year Central District was the first to use an air force NH90 helicopter alongside an Iroquois during the aerial recovery phase. The NH90 was conducting testing and evaluation in order to support future operations.
Operation co-ordinator Detective Senior Sergeant Scott McGill said the arrest of 64 patched gang members or associates during the operation showed the strong connection between organised crime and the cannabis trade.
"The cannabis trade is a destructive force in New Zealand society.
"By destroying over 100,000 plants before they were harvested police have prevented significant social damage from occurring in our community." Three clan labs were also discovered, two in Northland and one in Eastern District.
McGill said police would continue to work with the public to reduce the harm cannabis and other illicit drugs caused in the community.
"The clan labs detected during Operation Lucy show that often organised criminal groups manufacture and supply a range of illegal drugs.
"You can report any suspicious activity involving drugs by contacting your local police station or by calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
AT A GLANCE Plants seized per police district Northland, 46,224 Waitemata/Counties Manukau, 2629 Waikato, 8272 Bay of Plenty, 16,620 Eastern, 14,657 Central, 7415 Wellington, 1393 Tasman, 7639
- Manawatu Standard
If you had a choice, which would you prefer on Christmas day?Related story: Sun takes a Christmas holiday