News | 07.23.2020

Domestic Violence Complaint Reveals Massive Grow-Op

What started with a couple’s argument, ended up being one of the largest cannabis busts in New Zealand’s recent history.

It happened in January of this year in a rural property in Fielding, NZ, where the Manawatu Police Department received several complaints about loud noise and disturbance in a local residence. In its initial visit, the Police found a firearm at the site, which made them open a formal investigation. 

This time with a search warrant, the Police returned to the site and found something that they never imagined. “It’s one of the most significant indoor cannabis operations discovered in the past ten years,” said Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Thompson from the Manawatu Police Department. 

The plants were inside a shed in the property. Photo courtesy of New Zealand Police Department.

According to the Police report, they found more than 1,000 cannabis plants in the house, 17.5 pounds of buds, 556 grams of bagged weed, 19 grams of methamphetamine, and more than 800,000 New Zealand dollars (about half a million US dollars). The house had everything needed for a successful and technified indoor cannabis grow: potting mix, irrigation systems, pumps, filters, chemicals, fertilizers, drying racks, heat lamps, fans, two freezers to store product, and a shipping container to stock all the gear.

Upon his discovery, the 44-year-old man did not resist the raid or his capture. Instead, he was surprisingly open with the authorities about his operation. He even told them that he sold a pound for 3,600 NZD. The Manawatu Police Department stated that the man was the main supplier of major cities in the region. They estimate that he sold about 48 kilos every year, making about 380,000 NZD in revenue.

Part of the bust. Photo courtesy of New Zealand Police Department.

This week, the man pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis for supply, cultivating cannabis, and possessing methamphetamine. He is expected to receive his sentence in September. His wife, 46, pleaded not guilty to the same crimes and will face court in August. 

In New Zealand, cannabis possession can land a person a $500 fine, while manufacturing and supplying it can go for as much as 14 years in prison. Still, the country will face a cannabis legalization and control referendum in September, where the future of legal cannabis, and probably this man, will be decided.

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