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Operation Emerald Leads To Arrests And Seizures In Bay Of Plenty

A significant Police operation has culled a massive source of funding for Bay of Plenty’s organised crime groups and gangs.

In the recent five-day operation, 39 search warrants were executed at properties across the region, resulting in 29 firearms being seized and 25 arrests. Police have laid a number of drug and firearm-related charges, and further charges and arrests are expected as enquiries progress.

Police, assisted by the Armed Offenders Squad in some cases, seized more than 80 grams of methamphetamine, $7610, and recovered two stolen vehicles and a stolen motorbike. While executing the warrants, several loaded firearms were confiscated.

Some of the accused have already appeared before the courts across the Bay of Plenty and will reappear at later dates, while others are yet to be summonsed.

Operation Emerald targets the large-scale cultivation of drugs, which provides a large income stream for gangs and organised crime groups. During the operation in Bay of Plenty District, 11,372 cannabis plants were sprayed, recovered, or pulled from the ground in our district.

The plants ranged in size from seedlings to fully grown plants 2m high. Police recovered 729 plants at one Western Bay of Plenty address, 1.6kg of harvested cannabis at a Taupo property, and more than 4kg of edibles at an Eastern Bay of Plenty address.

Illicit drug operations on a commercial scale strengthen organised crime groups and harm our communities. This operation has involved multiple staff and many hours of planning, and we know this will have an immediate effect on the gangs and organised crime groups behind these operations.

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The Greazy Dogs gang will be feeling particularly hard hit, with more than 2500 plants removed from paddocks surrounding their gang pad and residential properties in Tauranga.

The purpose of Operation Emerald isn’t to target recreational drug users – it’s to hit gangs and criminal entities, whose parasitic offending feeds off our communities. We’re thrilled to have hit their criminal networks and it’s pleasing to have results that have interrupted their offending.

The large-scale production of illicit drugs is a high-risk activity and criminals arm themselves as protection. This increases the risk to innocent people and taking so many firearms out of the hands of criminals is only a good thing.

The Drug Harm Index 2020 estimates cannabis causes $15,724 of social harm per kilogram consumed, amounting to approximately $911m in social harm in our communities each year. It is believed the illegal sale of cannabis equates to $406 million dollars going back primarily to gangs and organised crime groups.

Operation Emerald alone last year prevented $126.8 million in social harm to our communities and prevented gangs and organised crime from earning $128 million.

The 2022/23 operation resulted in 35,097 plants being seized or destroyed, along with 93.452kg of cannabis head and plant material, with a combined street value of $128m.

A number of Police officers have been involved in the local phase of the operation and even at its conclusion we will keep the pressure on these criminal entities. We don’t want them here, we don’t need them here, and we will target their offending every chance we get.

© Scoop Media

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