CLOSE to $15 million worth of illicit drugs have been seized and 12 people have been arrested following a major police operation across the state’s south.
In 2012, detectives from the Drug Squad and investigators from the Far South Coast Local Area Commands formed Strike Force Oceanic to investigate a major drug supply syndicate operating throughout southern NSW.
Police will allege the syndicate was involved in the production, distribution and sale of commercial quantities of methylamphetamine and cannabis.
Around 9am yesterday, police arrested three men and seized nine kilograms of methylamphetamine during an operation in Gundagai.
The nine kilograms of methylamphetamine have an estimated street value of $9 million.
The trio of men – a 62-year-old man from East Lynne, a 63-year-old man from Malua and a 40-year-old man, also from Malua Bay – were all taken to Wagga Wagga Police Station, where they were charged with numerous offences relating to the large commercial supply of prohibited drugs and participation in a criminal group.
All three were bail refused and are schedule to appear in Wagga Wagga Local Court today.
Officers subsequently executed search warrants at numerous properties across the state, including:
• A home on the Northern Road in Bringelly, where police seized more than 90,000 rounds of ammunition, seven firearms (two shotguns, four rifles and an air-rifle), and numerous electronic devices.
• A rural property in Crowther where officers discovered approximately 2750 cannabis plants, with an estimated street value of approximately $5.5 million.
• A property on Wood Road in Yenda where police located and seized two pallets filled with shotgun cartridges and 60kg of gunpowder.
• A home in Napoleon Street, Sans Souci, where a hydroponic cannabis set-up and six large cannabis plants were located. A 36-year-old resident of the home was charged with enhanced indoor cultivation (expose child) and given conditional bail to appear in Kogarah Local Court on 4 March 2014.
A property in Palmerston in the ACT where, with the assistance of ACT Police, NSW Police officers arrested a 40-year-old man before charging him with drug supply offences, and for knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime. He appeared in Queanbeyan Local Court yesterday (Wednesday 12 February 2014).
• A home in Batemans Bay, where police arrested a 46-year-old man before charging him with drug supply offences, and for participating in a criminal group. He was refused bail to appear in Narooma Local Court today.
A property in the southern Sydney suburb of Miranda, where police arrested and charged a 36-year-old man before charging him with the enhanced indoor cultivation of cannabis for commercial purpose and for drug possession. He was granted conditional bail to appear in Sutherland Local Court on 13 March 2014.
• A home on Georges Bass Drive in Malua Bay where police located 163 cannabis plants.
• A property on the Princes Highway in East Lynne where police located a hydroponic set-up with 24 cannabis plants and a number of seedlings.
• A property on Quort Pot Road in Buckenbowra, where officers located and seized cannabis seeds, ammunition and a loaded rifle.
• A property in the suburb of Surfside where police located and seized six cannabis plants.
In addition to drugs, ammunition and weapons, police have also seized a number of vehicles, machines and documents during the search warrants.
A number of search warrants at a variety of locations throughout NSW are still in progress and more items of interest are expected to be seized.
Yesterday’s warrants and arrests follow the arrests of five other people during earlier stages of Strike Force Oceanic.
The Commander of the Drug Squad, Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke, said yesterday’s operation would seriously disrupt the illicit drug trade in many parts of southern NSW.
“We will allege in court that there had been a major syndicated operation in the supply of drugs to numerous communities throughout the south of the state, and we are confident yesterday’s arrests will seriously disrupt the syndicate’s activity,” Detective Superintendent Cooke said.
He added that local police were instrumental in ensuring the operation’s success.
“This has been a tremendous example of the cooperation which exists between State Crime detectives, local area police and specialist officers right across the state, ensuring it is not easy for drug dealings to happen in any town in NSW,” Detective Superintendent Cooke said.
“In particular, this operation should give rural and regional communities confidence that drug dealing, anywhere, is something we will continue to pursue.”
The Commander of the Far South Coast Local Area Command, Superintendent Peter O’Brien, echoed Detective Superintendent Cooke’s views, saying the operation’s success was a result of excellent investigative work from all of the officers involved.
“Local investigators and Drug Squad detectives have worked tirelessly on this case and yesterday’s results are a testament to their remarkable effort,” Superintendent O’Brien said.
“Drugs can not only destroy people’s lives, they can ravage entire communities.
“Anyone who is involved in the production, distribution or sale of illicit drugs deserves to be put behind bars, and we will continue to do everything we can to gets drugs – and the people who deal them – out of our communities.”
Yesterday’s operation involved police from numerous commands across the state including State Crime Command, Southern Region, Central Metro Region, South West Metro Region, Special Services Group, State Protection Group and the Major Events & Incident Group.