VIDEO: Police freeze Coast ice trade in $1.5m bust
EIGHT months, 92 arrests, 214 charges and at least three kingpins charged under VLAD legislation.
The result: $1.5 million worth of ice was taken off our streets, after Sunshine Coast Police smashed a highly-sophisticated drug syndicate.
The multi-agency operation, which kicked off last October yesterday came to fruition, as police conducted raids across the Coast, in Landsborough, Mooloolah, Caloundra, Kawana, Maroochydore, Yandina and Sunshine Beach, charging 41 residents with drug trafficking in the final stages of Operation Mike Tyras.
More than 2.5kg of methylamphetamine (ice) was seized throughout the course of the investigation, which saw police target the syndicate in regional centres throughout Queensland, including Cairns, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and inner and outer suburbs of Brisbane.
The news was revealed yesterday at a press conference with the Sunshine Coast Police and the Drug and Serious Crime Group.
Drug and Serious Crime Group Detective Inspector Lance Vercoe told of the way the investigation, which began on the Coast, had methodically unravelled what police would allege was a highly organised crime network, suspected to have operated for the past 12-24 months.
"When we became involved in the investigation our focus was to identify the sources that were providing the drugs to the Sunshine Coast syndicate," Det Insp Vercoe said.
"We executed a search warrant on a Mt Gravatt home in June 29, arresting three men who were charged under VLAD and with trafficking, to remove the profitability of the syndicate, seizing a large number of assets."
Det Insp Vercoe said the three alleged kingpins had been identified as part of the initial investigations on the Coast, with the Brisbane-based Drug and Serious Crime Group teaming up to help bust the network open, resulting in 74 people being charged with trafficking ice.
Sunshine Coast crime services Detective Inspector Dave Drinnen praised what he said would be a "huge dent" in the flow of ice to the Coast, but noted that the network involved in yesterday's raids had appeared to have progressed beyond backyard meth labs.
"There's a lot of information that suggests the importation of this drug coming in from overseas and which these syndicates are able to access and then distribute throughout the community," Det Insp Drinnen said.
Of concern to Det Insp Drinnen was the seizure of a large number of handguns, longarms and other weapons, even some snakes, from alleged members of the syndicate.
"That's certainly alarming because we've got drug dealers out there who are arming themselves with weapons," he said.
"Proceeds of crime was another area we've worked on with the CCC (Crime and Corruption Commission)."
Extensive numbers of assets, from cars and jet skis, to lifestyle items like jewellery had also been seized by police, who had to carry out intricate searches of properties to locate the items, including removing wall panels in homes to uncover caches of drugs, cash and weapons.
"We've got those who are unemployed and are clearly using this as an income to support themselves, their lifestyle, but we've also got others who are business operators, who have businesses, who have employment and income, they've also been involved so there's quite a diverse group of people that have been involved," Det Insp Drinnen said.
Det Insp Drinnen hailed yesterday's raids as some of the biggest seizures and successes in the past decade on the Coast and Moreton Bay.