Various drugs, weapons and drug related property seized yesterday.
Various drugs, weapons and drug related property seized yesterday. Aden Stokes

Over 30 busted in CQ drug syndicate raids

MORE than 30 people have been charged in what police say is their biggest drug bust in the Central Highlands.

Emerald Criminal Investigation Branch today closed a year-long drug operation targeting a syndicate dealing the drug ice across the CQ city.

Police say 36 people are facing more than 400 charges, including 15 people charged with 26 counts of trafficking methamphetamine and cannabis and 284 counts of supplying dangerous drugs.

It is anticipated that more people and charges will come as a result of Operation Papa Skobeloff which started in November 2016 by Emerald CIB with the intention of targeting a syndicate believed to be responsible for the supply and distribution of drugs in the Central Highlands area.

Detectives were assisted by officers from Rockhampton, the Tactical Crime Squad as well as officers from Spingsure, Ankie, Capella and Blackwater with a number of search warrants being executed yesterday and continuing today.

Detective Sergeant Russell Joyce said the operation's closure was the result of a years' worth of hard work from detectives.

"We have seen a large quantity of drugs and firearms removed from the community as a result of this operation," he said.


Chief in Charge Detective Sergeant Russell Joyce speaks at press conference on drug bust.
Chief in Charge Detective Sergeant Russell Joyce speaks at press conference on drug bust. Aden Stokes



"All the police officers involved have worked tirelessly to get to this point, and I want to thank members of the Emerald community for assisting us in getting the great results we see today.

"This is a very large syndicate, people working with each other, when one person would get some drugs in they would distribute it around and then vice-versa when the next person would get it in they would distribute it around the network.

"We have also seized some firearms that have been located on the persons who we have charged with supplying and trafficking dangerous drugs.

"We stared raiding properties (this) morning at 6.30am and will finish at 5pm."

Around 75-80% of the residents charged have been from Emerald.

"A lot of the information originally came from Crime Stoppers and through work with the local police in town identifying people known to us to be supplying methamphetamines and from that we have developed operation tactics to those people out of the syndicate," Det Sgt Joyce said.

"This operation is extremely significant for the Emerald region, it should disrupt and dismantle key buyers, preventing the importation of methamphetamine in our town and then taking out the people supplying it throughout the towns."

Over the course of the operation, police have seized more than 100 grams of methamphetamine, 250 MDMA pills and tablets, about 7kg of cannabis, and over the past couple of days about 10g of amphetamines and similar amounts of cannabis.

"From what we have gathered from this investigation the drugs are being imported into the town from Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney and internationally," Snr Sgt Joyce said.

"Distributors are the ones who are causing the biggest problem for our town and our community, and our operation aims to remove them from the community and the damage they are causing it.

"This operation is predominately ice and the other drugs that were seized are secondary to ice, they are all trafficking ice.

"We've seized $20,000 in cash of these people to date and some of them had debts of up to $8,000 owing to people they have sourced they're amphetamines off, so it's a decent chunk of money.

"Getting these people of the streets should reduce the cash flow of the ice business from Emerald and it will make our roads safer for our community and it should also make the quality of life better for the people out here.

"Some of the street prices are going double, even triple, of what they are paying in Brisbane for the same amount of drugs, so it's a significant amount of money that's been directed from, what would otherwise be, decent community activities into the ice trade.

"Trafficking methamphetamines is the highest charge that has been handed out so far and the highest penalty for that is 20 years.

"To my knowledge this is the largest drug seize operation in the history of the Central Highlands region."

Investigations are continuing.

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