More than $10 million of cannabis, $17 million in assets seized

A police car

Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

A “massive” organised crime operation has been busted in Northland following two major investigations.

Police say an investigation into a large scale cannabis cultivation in Northland – Operation Peruvian – has come to and end with 6500 cannabis plants seized and destroyed.

The plants had a street value of more than $10 million.

Police upper North money laundering team lead Detective senior sergeant Andrew Dunhill said police allege the illegal cultivation of cannabis at the mid Northland rural property was linked to previous offending as part of Operation Bush.

Operation Bush is an ongoing investigation targeting the large-scale commercial cultivation, sale and supply of cannabis, and money laundering, Dunhill said.

As part of the investigation, about $17m in property, assets and cash had been restrained by police, he said.

In Counties Manukau police destroyed more than 6500 cannabis plants growing in two commercial large-scale glasshouses and five purpose built portable grow tents.

They also destroyed more than 1000 cannabis plants in Waikato at a converted factory.

Both investigations uncovered “several enormous commercial growth cultivations across the Northland, Waitematā, Auckland City, Counties Manukau and Waikato Districts”.

Six people, aged between 37 and 54, have been arrested in relation to Operation Peruvian this week and appeared in Kaikohe District Court.

“To date, in relation to both Operation Peruvian and Operation Bush, a total of 34 people have been arrested and are collectively facing more than a hundred charges laid alleging offending across a wide range of serious offences relating to the cultivation and supply of drugs, and money laundering,”Dunhill said.

“The cultivation, manufacture, supply and distribution of controlled drugs continues to be a major driver in all serious crimes within our communities.

“We will continue to use all available resources to strip assets and wealth from those who have accumulated it through the sale of these illicit substances.”

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