$2.5M of drugs seized in pre-Christmas swoop
POLICE have busted several million dollars worth of cannabis just weeks before Christmas in a bid to disrupt the south east's sophisticated drug syndicates.
The significant seizure, valued at nearly $2.5 million, included 18 kilograms of dried cannabis, 593 cannabis plants and 26 hydroponic systems, as well as 10 firearms, cannabis oil and $10,000 cash.
According to Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar from the State Drug Squad, the timing of the busts were paramount to the operation's success.
"We're always mindful that this time of year is sensitive," Det. Inspector Asnicar said.
"We've just had Schoolies and we've got all those kids moving around through Queensland and New South Wales, it's Christmas time coming up and the weather's the right time- particularly for growing cannabis.
"We've got inelegance who tell us when are the right times to attack particular products, and what we can see is opportunity on the horizon. We do target particular times, and we should."
The large scale targeted operation spanned the distance of the Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay and Capricornia regions, and was a "community effort," with the public feeding relevant information to police to help conduct investigations.
Det. Insp. Asnicar said although the amount of drugs was significant, the focus was on drug syndicates' ability to transport the drugs.
"The highlight for us is to identify syndicates and networks that are moving illegal drugs, and disrupt those syndicates with a view to disrupting the drug market in Queensland specifically … where you see cannabis and firearms you will also see other drug types," he said.
"We need to take our minds away from 'it's cannabis or it's MDMA or its ecstasy or MDA' or whatever the product is- the product's not really important. The ability to move illicit product freely is the issue for us."
The successful week long targeted operation saw 47 people charged on 163 drugs and weapons offences as part of the ongoing Operation Romeo Factor, lead by the State Drug Squad.
The proactive and co-ordinated operational activity, which commenced on November 24, saw police execute 53 search warrants, however Det. Insp. Asnicar said there's many more to come.
"I'm not naive enough to say there aren't more networks out in Queensland, of course there are, and there may well be some vastly more sophisticated ones than the ones we've got today," he said.
"If we can continue to tap away at those systems, we are eventually going to close down their ability to move all the drugs around …. I have a team that is dedicated to looking at that particular market and they're resourced very well. They do a great job and we will see more from them in the future."
Arrests from the most recent operation include a 52-year-old man and 53-year-old woman, both from River Ranch.
The pair are charged with six drug offences each and will appear in Gladstone Magistrates Court on December 16.