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10,000 cannabis plants seized in NZ

Personnel from the New Zealand Defence Force and New Zealand Police scan the bush for cannabis plants from a Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter.

About 10,000 cannabis plants were seized recently as part of an annual police operation supported by the New Zealand Defence Force.

The operation, which was supported by NH90 helicopters and crew from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No.3 Squadron, was carried out in February and March.

It covered Nelson, Marlborough and the West Coast in the South Island and Manawatu, Horowhenua, Whanganui, Ruapehu and Taranaki in the North Island.

Detective Senior Sergeant Scott McGill said 68 per cent of the cannabis plants that were seized and destroyed from this phase of the operation came from the Tasman region.

A raid on a West Coast property netted the biggest haul for this phase of the operation involving the NZDF – 500 cannabis plants and 1.3 kilograms of dried head and leaf.

Thirty firearms and more than $50,000 in cash were also seized during the operation.

It was another successful operation and police could not have done it without the NZDF, Detective Senior Sergeant McGill said.

“The areas where they are cultivating cannabis are remote and so the NZDF’s air support is vital,” he said.

“It has dealt a blow to those engaged in these illegal activities. But more importantly, about 10,000 cannabis plants have been destroyed and will no longer be marketed in our communities, especially to our young people.”

Police suspended the anti-cannabis crackdown on February 20, the day before Cyclone Gita was forecast to hit the Nelson and West Coast areas, and reassigned staff to support the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management’s (MCDEM) response to the storm. The NZDF also re-tasked an NH90 helicopter supporting the anti-cannabis operation to provide airlift support to MCDEM.

Air Commodore Andrew Clark, the Air Component Commander, said the anti-cannabis crackdown was one of the tangible ways the NZDF assisted the New Zealand public.

“Police were able to reinforce their message that they will continue to stamp out these illegal activities and prevent social harm in our communities. It was also an excellent opportunity to consolidate our training and has strengthened our ability to operate with NZ Police,” Air Commodore Clark said.

Every year, the police conduct cannabis recovery operations across the country.

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