The dead giveaway leading police to drug dealers
SILLY drug dealers hiring cars in a bid to make covert drug drop-offs are sticking out like sore thumbs to patrolling Cairns police who have made a swath of roadside busts during the virus crisis.
Tourist numbers have been negligible in the city in the past three months, negating the number of vehicles hired for genuine tourism purposes.
Far North police Chief Supt Brian Huxley revealed officers have been actively targeting those behind the wheel of cars belonging to hire companies, often finding they are well past their return date and considered stolen.
"It's quite obvious when you've got so few tourists in town who is driving these cars," he said.
"It's just an observation police have made as a modus operandi.
"The vehicles are being utilised by drug offenders.
"We're finding drugs, cash and other items on these offenders."
Chief Supt Huxley said it was likely the dealers might already have their own vehicles, but were hiring the "nondescript" style vehicles from rental companies to avoid detection.
He said hire cars accounted for about a quarter of vehicles stolen in Cairns during May.
"I would think if you're doing drug deliveries and you see a vehicle turning up at the same place and same time, the neighbours are going to pick it up," he said.
"Cairns is a big place, but it's not that big. If you've got the same vehicle you're going to stand out.
"Hire cars are fairly nondescript, standard cars in pretty good conditions, they're not going to arouse suspicion.
"I think we're slightly ahead of the crooks at the moment."
The most recent roadside bust came on Sunday night when police pulled over a hatchback on the corner of McCormack and Lennon streets at Manunda about 11.30pm.
One of the three occupants, a 30-year-old Mt Sheridan man, was allegedly found with quantities of methylamphetamine and cannabis.
Drug-related utensils, a phone and a sum of cash were also located and seized.
He is due to appear on multiple drug-related charges in the Cairns Magistrates Court on August 18.
Originally published as The dead giveaway leading police to drug dealers