Annual police drug recovery operation nets far fewer cannabis plants
A 75 per cent drop in cannabis plants recovered from the annual top of the south and the West Coast drug operation followed a police decision not to use helicopters this year.
Police said on Monday they had seized and destroyed 2200 cannabis plants this year from the two regions, 1300 from the Coast and 900 from the top of the south.
That compares to a total of around 9000 plants (6000 in the top of the south, 3000 from the Coast) last year when police used military helicopters in the operation.
In 2015 an estimated 4000 plants were recovered across the Tasman police district, also using helicopters.
Tasman District Commander Superintendent Mike Johnson said a decision was made to complete this year's operation using a "targeted, focused deployment model that did not include an aerial recovery phase".
"Police makes operational decisions every day on the best use of resources on a case-by-case basis," Johnson said.
"Police use a variety of tools and tactics to detect and recover cannabis at all times not just during the annual cannabis recovery operation. In some situations helicopters are used, but this is not necessarily appropriate in all circumstances."
Johnson said the approach this year allowed teams to focus on both cannabis and other drugs including methamphetamine. Police said they had seized methamphetamine and cannabis utensils, but there was no mention of any methamphetamine being recovered.
"Our staff are committed to seizing all drugs and holding those who possess, manufacture or supply to account as is appropriate under the law," Johnson said.
This year's operation started two weeks ago and involved 30 staff. It saw 24 searches in residential and rural locations, split between both regions. A further 100 public sites were also visited.
Police seized $1700 in cash, two illegal firearms, one of which was loaded, and recovered 10 firearms from a licensed holder.
They also found an indoor-growing system during the operation.
A total of 15 people were arrested and await prosecution.
On the West Coast, police found more than 400 plants in one public plot.
Tasman Police Inspector Dan Mattison said the operation was aimed at reducing social harm in the community.
"The supply of illicit drugs has a big impact on our community. Drugs ruin lives," he said.
"People are committing dishonesty crimes such as burglary to fund their habit."
He said police were working to ensure anyone involved in drug-related activity was referred to the appropriate agency for help.
Persons prosecuted as a result of the police operation are in the process of being put before the courts.
For drug and alcohol related help contact the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800-787-797.