VIDEO: Police eradicate $14 million worth of drugs
MORE than 7200 cannabis plants have been seized by police as part of this year's Cannabis Eradication Program (CEP) on the Northern Rivers.
The CEP is an annual operation, led by detectives from the State Crime Command's Drug and Firearms Squad, which targets outdoor cultivation of cannabis.
Detectives were assisted by police from Richmond, Mid North Coast, Tweed/Byron and Coffs/Clarence Police Districts, as well as PolAir, the Dog Unit, and other specialist units.
High value off the streets
During this season's program, police seized 7221 plants, with an estimated potential street value of $14,442,000.
- 2500 plants seized in Richmond Police District between November 20-24, 2017
- 2100 plants seized in Mid North Coast Police District between December 11-15, 2017
- 700 plants seized in Tweed/Byron Police District between February 4-8 2018,
- 1893 plants seized in Coffs/Clarence Police District between February 19-22, 2018.
Many of the crops were growing in dense bushland, and often located on Crown Land.
Crop sizes ranged from just a few plants to several hundred.
Officers also seized 3.3kg of cannabis head and five firearms.
In total, 29 people were served court attendance notices for various drug and firearms offences.
Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Peter McErlain, said the program has proven to be a successful strategy for reducing the availability of prohibited drugs in NSW.
"For more than 30 years, the Cannabis Eradication Program has been an invaluable tool for ongoing investigations into the supply of cannabis and other illicit substances," he said.
"This program not only has a significant impact on availability of cannabis, it also provides investigators with information to conduct further investigations into supply chains.
"When you delve deeper into the cultivation and supply of cannabis, you find the profits are often re-invested into other criminal enterprises that directly threaten the safety of the NSW community."
The Cannabis Eradication Program began in the 1980s and targets outdoor cannabis crops in the optimal growing season which runs throughout the warmer months of the year.
Cannabis plants with an estimated potential street value of more than $360 million have been seized during the program's lifetime.