Coffs Clarence police load the latest seizure of 200 cannabis plants on their way to the incinerator yesterday.
Coffs Clarence police load the latest seizure of 200 cannabis plants on their way to the incinerator yesterday. TREVOR VEALE

Coast drug hauls part of $28m bust

COFFS Clarence police say they have made another significant inroad into the manufacture and supply of prohibited drugs in the region.

The latest haul saw 200 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of $400,000 tagged, recorded and destroyed yesterday.

The crop comprised mature plants, some as high as six metres.

Police say the seizure has rounded off one of the most successful cannabis eradication schemes, netting $28 million in drugs statewide over the past 12 months.

Aside from cannabis, the Coffs Coast, a well known drug mecca, has also carried the unenviable fame of turning up the most methamphetamine laboratories in NSW in 2010/11.

A total of 11 labs were uncovered by police in the local area.

The big breakthrough was the commercial set-up found on a Corindi property last September – the largest ever methamphetamine lab in NSW.

Across the State, 96 labs were detected by police, ranging from simple to sophisticated set-ups in garden sheds, garages, motel rooms, caravans and even kitchens producing ice, speed and ecstasy.

Of most concern to police is that drug ‘cooks’ are now getting mobile in our neighbourhoods.

“We have even seen drugs produced in small labs in the back of cars,” Coffs Clarence Crime Manager Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay said.

“Drug manufacturers don’t need sheds or garages to produce these drugs anymore, we have seen intricate box labs where the drugs are produced in cars in local streets.

Mr Lindsay said the public had to be commended for a string of tip-offs in recent months.

“Eradication of illegal drugs in this command relies heavily on the public providing information to police.

If anyone has the suspicion of drugs being grown or produced in backyards or bushland, police need to know.

“It doesn’t matter how insignificant the information may seem, it may be the little piece in the big puzzle police are looking for to combat cannabis and methamphetamines in this area,” he said.

The cannabis crackdown, Strike Force Unwin, has involved local police working with detectives from the Drug Squad’s Cannabis Team, NSW Police Air Wing and the Dog Unit.

Since early November, it has targeted crops during the outdoor cannabis growing season which has now come to an end.

A total of 13,987 cannabis plants have been destroyed, with the Coffs Coast featuring heavily in intelligence based investigations, involving aerial and ground searches to uncover the crops.

“Preventing these drugs from hitting the streets is going to have an impact on the availability of cannabis in these areas and hopefully disrupt the supply chain,” said Drug Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham.

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