A POLICE helicopter on the lookout for cannabis crops on the Coffs Coast is thought to have disturbed the growers of one plantation as they harvested plants.
Officers, who seized the crop growing in bushland near Kalang, found 12 freshly uprooted plants, which had been bundled together.
State Crime Command Drug Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham said it was evident police may have just missed the growers while conducting the latest Police Cannabis Eradication Operation.
"The plants were freshly harvested and uprooted and the soil had been freshly disturbed," Supt. Bingham.
"I'd say they were spooked by the sound of the helicopter approaching."
Continuing the eradication program today, police have so far uncovered 200 plants this week.
"This is a pleasing result, as we uncovered 400 plants last season on the Coffs Coast, which suggests the growers haven't replanted since their last crops were uncovered in September," Supt. Bingham said.
"What we are finding is that more growers are trying to conceal or camouflage their crops so they are not visible from the air.
"We are finding what we call scatter crops, where the growers plant smaller plantations of 20 to 150 plants and try to conceal the cannabis foliage by planting cannabis in lantana, which makes the crops difficult to access.
"A lot of the intelligence we receive is based on the information provided by local police and by police in outlying areas.
The Coffs Coast has long been a cannabis growing haven, due to the favourable growing climate and inaccessible growing terrain.
"We have targeted the region under the Cannabis Eradication Scheme since the mid 1980s."
Police say they have had success in flying over the region at the start of the growing season in September and then conducting follow-up missions in late March/April.
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