POLICE have seized and destroyed thousands of cannabis plants with an estimated potential street value of more than $22 million during the 2014/15 Cannabis Eradication Program.
The Cannabis Eradication Program is an annual drug-detection program run by the NSW Police Force Drug Squad, working closely with local police, Polair and the Communications Group.
During the key cannabis growing season, from late Spring to early Autumn, police conduct targeted aerial and ground surveillance to detect and destroy illegal cannabis crops.
Many of the crops are located in dense bushland, and crop sizes range from just a few plants to several hundred. Plant sizes can reach three to four metres in height.
The 2014/15 program targeted cannabis crops in the New England, Richmond, Coffs Clarence and Tweed Byron Local Area Commands, with almost 12,000 plants seized and destroyed.
Of these areas, New England was the most prolific, netting a total of 4860 plants - compared with about 2500 in Richmond and Coffs/Clarence, and 1469 in Tweed/Byron.
A number of people were stopped by police and will face court on offences such as cultivate prohibited plant and possess prohibited drug.
Since it was established in the 1980s, the Cannabis Eradication Program has seized and destroyed plants with an estimated potential street value of $300 million.
Commander of the Drug Squad, Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke, said the program will continue to be a major strategy for police to target outdoor cannabis crops.
"It is also an invaluable tool for ongoing investigations into cannabis cultivation by the Drug Squad and local area commands across the state," Det Supt Cooke said.
"Preventing large amounts of cannabis will have an impact on the availability of cannabis in these areas, disrupt the supply chain, and minimise the harm caused by the drug," he said.
Police ask that anyone with information concerning the growth, manufacture or distribution of illicit drugs contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.