$3.4m BONFIRE

By CRAIG McTEAR

THE pungent aroma of marijuana drifting over the outlying streets of South Grafton could not be mistaken yesterday as police burned a massive haul of cannabis.

This week officers seized almost $3.4 million worth of cannabis in the Coffs/Clarence region during Strike Force Ruger ? the annual cannabis eradication program ? which ended yesterday. NSW Drug squad officers, backed by local police, the police helicopter and the dog squad, have targeted suspected cultivation areas in the region since Monday.

Police often had to negotiate rugged terrain and thick scrub to find the plants.

The massive operation follows other campaigns across the North Coast and the South Coast since November.

Police were yesterday continuing to dismantle a large cannabis plantation, with 1105 plants valued at $2.4m, in national park 80km north of Jackadgery.

All plants were more than two metres tall.

Earlier this week, police seized 105 plants, worth $250,000, near Black Mountain south of Nymboida.

All of the plants were more than three metres tall and were found in a steep gully.

Police also found other smaller crops throughout the region this week.

Since last November the State Crime Command Drug Squad has carried out five week-long cannabis eradication operations around the State, netting plants worth an estimated $17.5 million dollars.



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