POLICE claim to have smashed a major ‘sophisticated’ drug ring in the New England with a series of dawn raids that saw five men and women charged in Armidale.
The four men and one woman were still in custody late on Friday afternoon charged with dozens of drug supply matters including one man who is facing aggravated sexual assault charges.
The massive operation is one of the largest in the district’s history and is the culmination of 16 months of investigations by New England police, as well as Coffs Harbour officers.
New England Superintendent Scott Tanner said the men and women arrested “were large players" targeted in the operation, code-named Strike Force Janian.
“The initial investigation targeted on the drug supply network in the New England, through that investigation that led us over to Coffs Harbour where another network of criminals were identified, and hence what we have done [on Friday] has made a big dint in that supply network which we will claim was quite a sophisticated network,” he said.
“So what we've done today is taken what we say are a number of significant drug dealers out of the community and made the community a lot safer.”
During a series of dawn raids, police searched three homes in Schaefer Drive and Kennedy Street in Armidale as well as a nearby business, and another home in Uralla.
At the same time, Coffs police raided at least eight homes as well as a storage unit, with 19 people arrested throughout the course of the day and drugs including amphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, steroids, cannabis and cash seized in the raids, along with firearms.
Certainly they carried out quite a sophisticated network, they were quite transient, we had suppliers that were travelling from the New England area over to the North Coast to source certain products and then bringing back this way.- New England Superintendent Scott Tanner
“Certainly they carried out quite a sophisticated network, they were quite transient, we had suppliers that were travelling from the New England area over to the North Coast to source certain products and then bringing back this way,” Superintendent Tanner said.
He said the loss of lives at dance festivals recently, and the drug scourge meant the “cost to the community is great” and police would “take a very strong stance”.
“My message to the community is clear, we will continue to target these people that cause harm not only to themselves but also other members of the community,” Superintendent Tanner said.
“It’s certainly made a massive impact on Armidale, as we know the scourge of drugs is far reaching so to have this amount of people and this amount of drugs taken out of this network is only going to be a good thing for the town.”
The men and women in Armidale were refused bail to to front bail court on Saturday morning.
A 21-year-old Armidale man has been charged with 26 drug supply offences including commercial dealing and supplying on an ongoing basis as well as five counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under under 16.
A 27-year-old Armidale man has been charged with nine offences including commercial drug supply and knowingly direct the activities of a criminal group.
A 24-year-old Armidale man has been charged with two counts of taking part in the supply of an indictable quantity of a prohibited drug; supply indictable quantity prohibited drug; two counts of supply prohibited drug and knowingly participate in a criminal group.
A 52-year-old Uralla man has been charged with supply prohibited drug and two counts of dealing with the proceeds of crime.
A 24-year-old Armidale woman has been charged with knowingly participate in a criminal group and three drug supply offences.