Police estimate they have saved the country over $300 million in socio-economic harm in a bumper year of cannabis busts.
Police have destroyed over 124,000 cannabis plants and arrested 780 people in drug raids in the past year.
They are crediting good flying weather and targeted air surveillance for the success of the nationwide cannabis crime effort, labelled Operation Julia, which saw 25 per cent more cannabis plants destroyed than the previous year.
Police also seized 147 firearms, recovered almost $440,000 worth of stolen property and found nine methamphetamine labs in over 640 raids.
The operation targeted those that grew, distributed and used cannabis as a gateway drug to other criminal activities.
Detective Senior Sergeant McGill said the raids had saved taxpayers and communities hundreds of millions in drug-related expenses, including money that would have been spent on drug-related crime and health effects.
Based on the New Zealand Drug Harm Index, police put the figure at $336,144,690.
Detective Senior Sergeant McGill said the contribution from the public had been immense.
"The operation would not have been such a success without the assistance of the public, who make a major contribution by providing valuable information to the operation each year, which leads to plots being located and offenders arrested," he said.
Detective Senior Sergeant McGill said police had already begun planning for next year.
"Police intend to continue their efforts to reduce the availability of cannabis and associated drugs within New Zealand, resulting in safer communities", he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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