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Police Seize $40 Million Worth Of Cannabis Plants In One Of Australia’s Biggest Ever Drug Busts

by : Emily Brown on : 26 Oct 2020 13:10
Police Seize $40 Million Worth Of Cannabis Plants In One Of Australia's Biggest Ever Drug BustsNSW Police

Police have seized more than 13,000 cannabis plants worth an estimated $40 million in one of the biggest drug busts in Australian history. 

Officers from New South Wales (NSW) conducted raids on three properties in Minimbah, Melinga and Moorwood, on the state’s mid north coast, over the course of two days last week.

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A total of 13,353 cannabis plants were seized and 14 men were arrested. They were refused bail and will appear in court in January.

You can watch footage from the raids below:

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The raids began on Thursday, October 22, when Drug and Firearms Squad detectives, officers attached to the Manning/Great Lakes Police District, Northern Region Regional Enforcement Squad (RES) and the Dog Unit descended on the Minimbah property and discovered more than 5500 cannabis plants and 39 pounds of dried cannabis worth close to $17 million.

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Six Vietnamese men were arrested, including a 31-year-old permanent resident, a 41-year-old who is allegedly unlawfully in Australia, a 23-year-old and 27-year-old who are both on student visas and a 38-year-old and a 44-year-old on bridging visas.

Greenhouses with cannabis plantsNWS Police

All six men were taken to Taree Police Station where they were charged with cultivating and supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited plant as well as participating in a criminal group.

Officers seized more than 7,700 other plants the following day, when they simultaneously targeted properties in Melinga and Moorland.

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Eight more men, also Vietnamese nationals, were arrested, including a 31-year-old permanent resident, three men in their 20s who are said to be in the country unlawfully, a 22-year-old and 27-year-old on student visas and a 23-year-old and 24-year-old on bridging visas.

The men were again taken to Taree Police Station and face the same charges. Police also informed the Department of Home Affairs about their visa issues.

Police removing cannabis plantsNSW Police

According to Drug and Firearms Squad Commander Detective Superintendent John Watson, police in Australia haven’t had a bust as big as this since the 1970s, Port News reports.

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Watson commented:

The biggest difference is in 1975 outdoor crops were seasonal, so criminal groups were restricted to one crop a year, whereas these grow houses are weather controlled enabling the harvest of new plants every 12 weeks or so.

Police Minister David Elliott commended the officers for their work and said the government will continue to support the police in shutting down criminal groups ‘at all levels’.

Police remove cannabis plantsNSW Police
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He said:

This remarkable work by the NSW Police Force will keep millions out of the hands of criminals, which will go a long way to keeping our communities safe.

Last week’s successful bust is the latest made by Strike Force Harthouse; a force established by the State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearms Squad and the Australian Crime Intelligence Commission (ACIC) last November to investigate the growing and supply of cannabis across NSW.

Strike Force Harthouse is continuing its investigations.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: News, Australia, Cannabis, Drug Bust, New South Wales

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Port News
  1. Port News

    $40 million cannabis crop seized on Mid North Coast