Twenty-three people have been arrested and more than $400,000 worth of illicit drugs have been seized in a cross-border drug sting nine months in the making.
ACT and NSW police seized an estimated $420,000 worth of drugs including heroin, ecstasy and cannabis in a series of raids on Tuesday morning, carried out as part of an investigation into the supply of illicit drugs throughout the Canberra and Queanbeyan region.
Officers from Strike Force Delicate, formed by Monaro Local Area Command in August, also seized firearms, ammunition and other weapons in the searches.
Officers searched 17 properties - including five in the ACT, 10 in Queanbeyan, one in Goulburn and one in Cooma - at about 8.30am on Tuesday, resulting in 23 arrests as of 1.40pm that afternoon. Further arrests are expected.
ACT Policing Detective Superintendent Brett McCann said five search warrants were executed and four people were taken into custody in Canberra.
Detective Superintendent McCann said one person would be charged with trafficking methamphetamine, but could not comment further.
“We seized a quantity of cannabis, $33,000 in cash, a .22 rifle, silencer and an amount of ammunition during the warrants,” he said.
Detective Superintendent McCann said Tuesday’s operations had direct links to an arrest made last week in the ACT.
Across the border, 15 people were arrested in Queanbeyan, two in Cooma, one in Goulburn and one in Sydney.
Acting Monaro Local Area Commander Detective Acting Superintendent Shane Box said officers in Queanbeyan seized heroin, methamphetamine, pills, cannabis, and steroids. He said no weapons had been uncovered.
Detective Acting Superintendent Box said the operations had involved a “significant number of covert strategies”.
“In excess of 50 people have been identified and are classed as targets,” he said.
“This has resulted in excess of 200 drug supply charges and the seizure of drugs at this stage in excess of $420,000. The operation has extended as far as Sydney, into Cooma, Goulburn but more importantly into Canberra.”
Detective Acting Superintendent Box said the operations were ongoing with further arrests expected.
“There are a significant number of targets that we will be following up over the next couple of weeks,” he said.
“… The flow-on effect will lead us to another number of operations in the near future. We will be tackling this problem. Again, it doesn’t surprise me that this type of network exists.”
No drug labs were uncovered as part of Tuesday’s raids, which police describe as going “smoothly”.
Acting Commander of the NSW Police Force’s southern region, Acting Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar, said a large quantity of drugs had been taken off the streets as a result of the ongoing operation.
“These drugs would have otherwise found their way into the hands of local men, women and in some cases children,” he said.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Cassar said the arrests, involving men and women, had disabled the activities of a number of local suppliers.