Massive nationwide cannabis crackdown
Police have charged more than 250 people after a massive crackdown on the sale of equipment for growing cannabis.
The result of the two-year undercover Operation Lime, officers swooped on 35 businesses and numerous homes across the country - including executing search warrants at all 16 branches and the distribution centre of a national supplier of indoor growing supplies. Police would not release the name of the store.
Directors and managers of the companies have been arrested and would be facing charges including cultivating cannabis and participating in an organised criminal group.
Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope said the operation this morning - which included executing search warrants in every police district - would break the cornerstone of the illicit cannabis cultivation industry.
More than 250 people - including employees, managers, company directors and cannabis growers - faced more than 700 charges.
Over 100 commercial cannabis growing operations linked to the businesses were also located and dismantled during the operation - including 19 that were discovered today.
Police also seized methamphetamine, LSD, ecstasy and firearms.
Mr Pope said undercover officers had bought equipment and were given advice on how to grow cannabis.
They even purchased cannabis clones and other drugs over the counter.
"Businesses have been committing these offences and supporting commercial cannabis growers and organised crime over a long period of time.
"This operation aimed to stop the supply of this equipment and has been very successful in doing so."
"Cannabis is the most abused controlled drug in New Zealand. The harm that this drug causes New Zealand communities can be conservatively estimated at 430 million dollars a year. It hurts every community in every part of the country."
Mr Pope said that honest suppliers of equipment to genuine gardeners were not targeted in the operation.
Online auction site TradeMe today also banned the trading of equipment used to cultivate cannabis.
Those arrested appeared in district courts around the country today.
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