More than 12,000 cannabis plants have been seized by police as part of the Cannabis Eradication Program (CEP) in northern New South Wales.
During this season’s CEP, police seized 12,096 plants, with an estimated street value of more than $24.2 million.
This includes 4153 plants seized in New England Police District, 1692 plants seized in Tweed/Byron Police District, 3503 plants seized in Richmond Police District, and 2748 plants seized in Coffs/Clarence Police District.
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Officers also seized about 30kg of cannabis head and leaf, 1kg of resin, and a variety of ammunition.
25 people in total were served Court Attendance Notices as a result of the seizures.
The CEP is an annual operation, led by detectives from the State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearms Squad, which targets the outdoor cultivation of cannabis throughout Northern NSW.
Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Martin Fileman, said officers worked in extreme conditions and thick, dense bushland.
“With the optimal cannabis growing season being late spring and summer, the CEP can be physically challenging for our teams, particularly when removing large crops of mature plants from remote areas,” Detective Fileman said.
“The assistance of our specialist units and their equipment is essential to the success of the program, as is the expert skills of all investigators and officers on the ground.
“Many of the large crop sites were located on Crown Land or in remote areas of private land – often unbeknownst to the owner.
“Cultivating any type of plant on land without permission or authority is theft.
“Our farmers are already doing it tough – they don’t need crooks destroying parts of their property and attempting to make a profit out of crops on stolen land,” he said.
All the plants were certified by an agronomist and have since been destroyed.
The CEP began in the 1980s, to target outdoor cannabis crops.
During the program’s lifetime, $380 million dollars worth of cannabis plants have been seized.