Cops set sights on pot and P

Franklin County News - - Front Page - By JULIE KAIO

Franklin cannabis grow­ers and ‘P’ pro­duc­ers, be warned.

Po­lice have you in their sights and are tar­get­ing of­fend­ers in con­cen­trated op­er­a­tions aimed at curb­ing il­le­gal drug pro­duc­tion and use in the district.

Last week de­tec­tives made a dent in lo­cal mar­i­juana cul­ti­va­tion through Op­er­a­tion Kristi.

The sting was an Auck­land and Coun­ties Manukau in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which saw up to 400 cannabis plants re­cov­ered and de­stroyed in Franklin alone.

For three days, po­lice used an Air Force chop­per to lo­cate cannabis crops through­out greater Auck­land.

De­tec­tive Gareth Brown of the Pukekohe CIB said in to­tal Kristi dis­cov­ered be­tween 1500 and 1800 cannabis plants, rang­ing from small seedlings to fully grown, in ex­cess of one me­tre high.

Mr Brown said the es­tab­lished plants can have a street value of up to $3000.

Af­ter the chop­per’s dis­cov­ery of the crops, po­lice ground crews were de­ployed and as a re­sult seven peo­ple in Franklin were ar­rested for cul­ti­va­tion.

Mr Brown said the op­er­a­tion was a suc­cess in re­mov­ing drugs from the Franklin com­mu­nity.

He said be­cause metham­phetamine has gained such mo­men­tum as a na­tional prob­lem, mar­i­juana of­fend­ers can been seen to ‘‘ slip un­der the radar’’.

How­ever Op­er­a­tion Kristi proves that all drug pro­duc­tion is a tar­get for po­lice, whether it be P or pot.

Kristi found that Franklin’s most pro­lific cannabis crops were in the Awhitu area.

But po­lice are aware of ar­eas at Port Waikato used to grow plants, how­ever they be­lieve th­ese were har­vested be­fore the chop­per could de­tect them.

Last week’s busts fol­low the suc­cess of a two-month or­gan­ised crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion tar­get­ing pro­duc­tion and sell­ing of metham­phetamine ‘P’ in South Auck­land and Franklin.

Op­er­a­tion Su­tomo saw nine peo­ple ar­rested, all of them ei­ther patched Pukekohe Black Power mem­bers or as­so­ci­ates of the gang.

Seven search war­rants, five in Franklin, un­cov­ered $ 75,000 worth of metham­phetamine ‘P’, $100,000 cash, firearms, cannabis and stolen lap­tops and ve­hi­cles.

Eight peo­ple have been charged with con­spir­acy to sup­ply metham­phetamine and one faces a charge of sell­ing metham­phetamine. They were due to reap­pear in Pukekohe District Court yes­ter­day.

Coun­ties Manukau De­tec­tive In­spec­tor John Tims said Op­er­a­tion Su­tomo ‘‘will have a se­ri­ous im­pact on the (lo­cal) drug trade’’.

Pukekohe po­lice asked the pub­lic to as­sist them in their fight against drugs.

De­tec­tive Brown urged any­one who knows of the man­u­fac­tur­ing, growth, or sell­ing of drugs to call staff at the Pukekohe po­lice sta­tion. They can be reached on 237 1700.

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