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Heat Is On Growers To Water Their Plots

Rocky Balboa

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While beachgoers enjoy the scorching Northland summer, cannabis growers are hoping for rain. Drug growers around the region have been working frantically to keep their illegal cash crops watered in heat that could mean daily visits to cannabis plots.

Now police are asking the public for help in catching the growers and to look out for increased traffic to rural areas. Northland has long been regarded as the cannabis capital of New Zealand, with the region regularly topping the list of plants pulled out during a season. Last season, from October 2006 to April 2007, police pulled out 31,000 cannabis plants in Northland.

Northland's average temperature for January has been 0.5C above normal at 20.3C, while there has also been less rain than normal.

Northland Police organised crime manager Detective Sergeant John Miller said that, unless the growers had set up a watering system, they would be carting in water every couple of days and sometimes daily.

"People might notice increased traffic flows to rural areas and notice different faces around," he said.

The number of cannabis plant seizures in Northland have steadily increased over the past five years and police are expecting another bumper crop this outdoor growing season.

"The growing season has been pretty good, even if it has got a bit dry," Mr Miller said. He urged those who discovered cannabis plots, or who noticed suspicious activity, to report it to police via a dedicated drug telephone line.

Already this year there had been reports of padlocks on forestry and farm gates being cut, which indicated people may be heading to cannabis plantations, he said.

In the past, water pumps and solar panels to run them had been stolen from farm properties to be used in hidden dope plots.

Electric fencing and piping, thought to be used in cannabis-growing operations, had also been disappearing from rural areas.

In March last year during Operation Amanda police sprayed, ripped out and destroyed more than 31,000 cannabis plants in Northland. They pulled apart 13 indoor growing operations, five cannabis oil laboratories and two methamphetamine laboratories.

About 125 people were arrested and $61,000 worth of stolen property was recovered, along with 50 firearms.

Source: New Zealand Herald
Author: Kristin Edge
Copyright: 2008 New Zealand Herald
Website: NZ Herald - The Latest New Zealand, World, Business, Sport and Entertainment News
 
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