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National Cannabis Recovery Operation - Operation Dee

"National Cannabis Recovery Operation - Operation Dee"

Please attribute to Detective Senior Sergeant Brent Murray, Asset Recovery Unit

In February 2016 Whanganui Police, as part of the National Cannabis Recovery Operation known as Operation Dee, executed search warrants on two properties owned by 63-year-old Whanganui man, Mr Ronald Gray.

Mr Gray operated a business involved in the cultivation and sale of flowers, primarily tulips from one of the properties.

During the search warrants Police located 92 cannabis plants and 354 grams of dried cannabis.

A Police Asset Recovery Unit investigation into the proceeds of the cultivation and sale of cannabis by Mr Gray led to the forfeiture of his Whanganui properties under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009.

The collective value of the two forfeited properties was $1,575,000.

As well as the forfeiture of his properties, Mr Gray was also sentenced in November 2018 to seven months and one week home detention on one charge of cultivating cannabis.

Police alleged Mr Gray had been involved in the cultivation and supply of cannabis for at least a four year period.

Police discovered that Mr Gray, who was growing tulips commercially on one of his two properties at the time of his arrest, had modified one of ten refrigerated shipping containers he used to store tulip bulbs into a cannabis cultivation operation.

Cannabis seedlings and a quantity of dried cannabis was located at Mr Gray second property.

As part of the investigation, Police was able to completely disprove Mr Gray’ claim that he had made only minimal profits from the cultivation and sale of cannabis.

“New Zealand Police, including the Asset Recovery Units, will target criminals involved in crime, including the sale of controlled drugs.
The aim is to continue to dismantle and disrupt criminal enterprises benefitting from the profits earned through crime, preventing the harm caused in the community from their criminal activities.” says Detective Senior Sergeant Brent Murray from the Asset Recovery Unit.

“This has been one of the largest forfeitures in the Whanganui region.
It’s an excellent example of local police uncovering the cannabis offending and then utilising a specialised unit such as the central asset recovery unit using financial analysis to confirm the true extent and time frame of the criminal offending” says the Crown Prosecutor Mr Chris Wilkinson-Smith.


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