WATCH: $12 million worth of cannabis seized in major bust
ALMOST $12 million worth of cannabis has been seized as part of this year's Cannabis Eradication Program in Northern NSW.
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.
Detectives were assisted by police from Coffs/Clarence, Richmond and Tweed/Byron Police Districts, as well as the Aviation Command, the Dog Unit, and other specialist units.
During this season's program, police seized 5,818 plants, with an estimated potential street value of $11.6 million.
This includes more than 3100 plants and 5kg of cannabis head seized in Coffs/Clarence Police District between February 3-7, more than 1690 plants seized in Richmond Police District between February 24-28, and 1015 plants seized in Tweed/Byron Police District between March 9-12.
Many of the crops were growing in remote dense bushland.
All the plants were certified by an agronomist and have since been destroyed.
In total, 25 people were served Court Attendance Notices for offences relating to the cultivation of cannabis.
Since February 2019, Drug and Firearms Squad detectives have seized 13,771 plants, with an estimated potential street value of $27.5 million.
Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent John Watson, said police have been confronted with challenging conditions this season.
"The environment has been extremely challenging for police - we had the bushfires, rain, flooding - so to say the criminals are doing their best to get into really remote areas is an understatement," Det Supt Watson said.
"The expertise and assistance of our specialist units is essential to the success of the program and this year has been no different."
Det Supt Watson said the strategy behind the CEP targets the networks behind the cultivation and supply.
"We have a dedicated investigative response to outdoor cannabis cultivation and by using intelligence to target known cultivation sites, we receive further information to conduct investigations into supply chains," Det Supt Watson said.
"Criminals who profit from cultivating these drugs are often known to re-invest funds into other criminal enterprises that directly impact the communities of NSW."
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 $390 million have been seized during the program's lifetime.
Anyone with information in relation to the cultivation and supply of cannabis is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.