Cannabis supply hit by drug raids
POLICE believe their determined cannabis seek and destroy mission on the Mid North Coast has caused a major shortage of the drug on NSW streets.
Intelligence is that dealers are running short on supply, after police netted more than $4.3 million of the drugs growing in bushland and on private properties around the Coffs Coast.
The police operation, codenamed Hyperion struck as growers were due to harvest their crops.
The cannabis eradication program involved the Drug Squad's Cannabis Team, NSW Police Air Wing, Police Dog Unit and local area commands from the Northern Region.
Since late last year officers have been raiding crop sites on private properties and crown land throughout the North Coast.
That included this week's raids on the Mid North Coast, where a total of 2154 plants were seized and destroyed.
That brings the total plants seized during the 2011/12 program to 10,174, with an estimated potential street value of more than $20 million.
Drug Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham, said the program had so far achieved its objective of disrupting the cannabis supply chain in NSW.
"Cannabis with a potential street value of over $20 million has not made it on to the streets of NSW this year, meaning decreased availability and increased prices for illicit drug consumers," Det Supt Bingham said.
"We are finding that growers are altering their methods to try to hide from police, with a move towards smaller crop sizes to try to avoid detection by the police helicopter, but as the results of this program have shown, it's no deterrent to us.
"Our methods combine a range of intelligence-based policing strategies with pro-active patrolling which remain highly successful in targeting illegal outdoor cannabis crops.
"Partnered with the NSW Police Force's ongoing work to detect indoor hydroponic cannabis, this program will continue to put a major dent into the availability of this illicit drug to the streets of NSW."
The Cannabis Eradication Program has been running since the mid-1980s with the NSW Police Force preventing a quarter of a billion dollars worth of cannabis reaching NSW streets.