One hundred and fifty people have been arrested across the Bay of Plenty in a District wide Police operation targeting the cultivation of cannabis, and the distribution and manufacture of illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine.
The Bay of Plenty Police District Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Tim Anderson, says the operation has been running since early February in two key phases, with the first phase in February focused on the location and destruction of outdoor cannabis growing operations.
Detective Inspector Anderson says the second phase was undertaken over 13 days in early March, with the execution of 183 search warrants, resulting in 150 people being arrested on a total of 291 charges.
"This has been a significant operation for the Bay of Plenty Police District, which has prevented a huge amount of drug harm in our communities.
"The majority of the search warrants undertaken were targeting drug dealing properties in local neighbourhoods.
"Regardless of the level of drug operation or offending, these are organised criminals who are essentially earning a living from the manufacture, cultivation and distribution of illicit drugs.
"The consequences of drugs are harmful and the negative impacts go far beyond the individual user and often translate into other areas of crime such as burglary, stolen cars, serious violence and intimidation. There are also significant social and financial costs to society, including the downstream health problems which our hospitals have to deal with.
"This is not activity that we want in our local communities. If you think suspicious drug activity is happening in your neighbourhood, please contact Police. You can also provide information anonymously via the independent Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.
"To assist us policing drug crime, we rely on information from members of the public. Please help us keep your community safe."
Detective Inspector Anderson says two methamphetamine clandestine laboratories were located in Tauranga during the operation, along with several sophisticated indoor cannabis growing operations across the District.
He says Police also seized 36 firearms.
"While we are pleased that these firearms are now out of local communities, we continue to be concerned about the number of firearms that Police inevitably locate associated with illegal drug operations.
"This has been a significant operation with some significant results. I am extremely proud of the huge effort from the Police team on this operation, and this focus will continue over the coming weeks and months." The key results from the Bay of Plenty drug operation are:
• 12,500 cannabis plants seized and destroyed in February in the Western Bay of Plenty and Eastern Bay of Plenty, approximately 10,000 cannabis plants sprayed and eradicated in March, and 9,500 cannabis plants were located in Tokoroa – a total of 32,000 plants destroyed
• Search warrants were undertaken in Te Puke, Papamoa, Mt Maunganui, Tauranga, Greerton, Rotorua, Kaingaroa, Murupara, Rotoma, Whakatane, Opotiki, Kawerau, Taupo, Tokoroa, Putaruru and Mangakino.
• 60 people were arrested in Rotorua, 34 in the Taupo Police Area, 32 in Western Bay of Plenty and 24 in Eastern Bay of Plenty.
• 36 firearms were seized, including 699 rounds of ammunition.
• Quantities of methamphetamine, cannabis and cannabis oil were recovered
• 2 methamphetamine clandestine laboratories were located in Western Bay of Plenty.
• Stolen property, including electronics and vehicles to the value of more than $115,000 were recovered
• $39,000 in cash was recovered
• Those arrested face a range of charges, including 79 charges of supplying drugs, 62 charges of drug cultivation, 14 of illegal possession of firearms, three on property related charges, 11 charges of manufacture and 65 charges of drug possession.
• 14 Police staff were involved in the first phase of the operation, with 30 staff involved in the second phase. Armed Offenders Squad members provided support on search warrants undertaken in Rotorua, Whakatane, Opotiki, Tauranga and Tokoroa.