Police terminate significant drugs operation
New Zealand Police Alert 9:00am 8 Dec 2008 Tasman
Location of incident: Westport
Incident type: Police terminate significant drugs operation.
Police are this morning executing a number of search warrants in the Westport area in connection with the termination of a major cannabis cultivation and supply operation.
Operation Marvel O/C, Detective Inspector John Winter said that staff drawn from the 3 South Island Districts were involved in the operation which brought to an end a syndicate supplying significant quantities of cannabis into the supply chain.
D/I Winter said that while there had been a recent, and proper, focus on methamphetamine as a source of harm in the community, police were still concerned about the ongoing harm caused by cannabis.
Tasman District figured in the top 3 Police Districts for the number of cannabis plants seized annually, and was 5th on the list of DHB hospitals recording admissions of cannabis-related harm.
D/I Winter said that cannabis was still the most prevalent illicit drug available in the District and police would maintain a 3-fold strategy of reducing demand, strangling the supply chain and community education on drug harm. The operation today was in accordance with that plan.The strategy included a strong focus on major growers of cannabis and this provided the potential to unlock a wider range of criminal offending.
The syndicate targeted by Operation Marvel was involved with both indoor and outdoor cultivation of cannabis. This was significant as indoor cannabis had a shorter turnaround time to harvest, and had a higher THC content, thereby making it a more valuable commodity to the grower.
Police believed the syndicate had been in place for some time and had a turnover in the millions of dollars.
Those arrested today would appear in the Westport District Court at a special sitting at 2.15pm this afternoon. Police were also conducting searches in other locations throughout the country and those arrested as part of that phase would appear in the respective District Courts.
An update will be made available at 2pm today.