Following his nose to a drug bust

Forty-four cannabis plants were discovered at a Mataura property, along with firearms and...
Forty-four cannabis plants were discovered at a Mataura property, along with firearms and ammunition. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED/MONTAGE: ODT ARTIST
It is pretty handy to have a nose for trouble, especially when you are a police officer on a foot patrol.

Police said in a statement last week that Mataura Constable Brett Dillon has been putting in the steps recently, making every effort to walk through the community he serves, stopping to chat with locals and sometimes just following his nose.

"I was on a recent foot patrol when a very pungent scent of cannabis was evident, even from the footpath," he said.

It was difficult to tell which property the smell was coming from but further investigation and monitoring from the street proved helpful.

"We began to make inquiries and then we noticed what appeared to be a false wall in an external garage on the property very close to where the strong smell of cannabis came from."

This was exactly what was needed to get the ball rolling for a search warrant.

Constable Nicole Mcleod led the organisation of the warrant and drew on local staff to assist.

The team — comprising Gore and Mataura staff — executed the warrant at the Mataura property and quickly discovered the source of the strong scent.

Sergeant Chris Dunbar was there to discover a significant drug operation in action, but that was not all.

"With the initial search of the garage we found three drug grows set up with 44 plants of various sizes and lots of equipment for hydroponic cannabis cultivation."

The find included a dismantled shotgun, which was hidden in a couch.

But that was not all.

A phone was seized, which led Senior Constable Nicky Herbert to conduct some very swift inquiries in co-ordination with the Invercargill CIB.

The information Snr Const Herbert was able to retrieve from the phone led to another warrant being executed at an Invercargill property, resulting in the seizure of further illegally held firearms and the discovery of an even larger cannabis grow operation.

From these searches, two offenders were arrested.

"This is a really good result for Mataura and Invercargill and shows the importance of local police working alongside their communities.

"Removing a significant drug operation that can cause a lot of social harm is one thing, but to get the danger of illegally held firearms out of the wrong hands is very satisfying and removes a lot of risk to our communities."