20 arrested, 1150 cannabis plants found

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 09:43 28/05/2014

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More than 1000 cannabis plants have been found in Marlborough during a five-month cannabis operation.

Sergeant Mike Porter, of Blenheim, said a total of 1150 plants were recovered in Marlborough, along with about 2.6 kilograms of dried cannabis ready for distribution.

Police arrested 20 people for cannabis-related offences during the operation, which finished last month.

Most plants were found on public land, while some were found in indoor growing setups or near houses, Porter said.

"We had a good response from the public reporting suspicious behaviour in the bush around growing cannabis and behaviour that did not fit the environment," he said.

Tasman operation commander Sergeant Rob Crawford said there was a "significant increase" in the number oof plants found in Havelock and Wairau Valley this season. The plants found were also a lot bigger, with some plants almost 2 metres high.

Police needed members of the public to report any suspicious activity, he said.

"Marlborough is so big, especially with the Sounds, we're reliant on what people tell us," he said. "It's totally intel-based. If we get information, that's where we go."

People who passed on information were always dealt with in the strictest confidence. A lot of information came from farmers and pig hunters, he said.

"Rural people suffer a lot of loss and damage when there are cannabis growers in the area. Fences are damaged, diesel gets stolen and freezers get emptied. We know that if we can make life difficult for growers, crime in those areas will decrease."

The air force helped with the recovery phase of the operation by providing Iroquois helicopters.

One helicopter spent about eight hours over two days in Marlborough, acting on information provided by the public, Crawford said.

A total of 172 plantations were found in the Tasman region, which includes Marlborough, Nelson and the West Coast.

The plants recovered were in much better condition than those found last season because of better weather during summer, Crawford said.

Outdoor plantations were still a popular option across the Tasman district because of the climate and accessibility, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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