Police seize $40million of cannabis in one of Australia’s biggest drug busts

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In total, more than 13,000 cannabis plants were seized. (NSW Police)
In total, more than 13,000 cannabis plants were seized. (NSW Police)
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Drug squad detectives have executed one of the largest cannabis seizures in Australian history – worth more than $40 million.So far 14 men have been charged in relation to the drug bust, which took place over two days last week at three properties on the NSW mid north coast.The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation by Strike Force Harthouse, which was established last November to investigate the cultivation and supply of cannabis across NSW.

Fourteen men were arrested as part of last week's raids. (NSW Police)
Fourteen men were arrested as part of last week’s raids. (NSW Police)

Drug and Firearms Squad Commander Detective Superintendent John Watson said the seizure was one of the most significant Australia had seen.”Over the two days, 14 offenders were arrested, and more than 13,000 plants were seized with an estimated street value of over $40 million,” Mr Watson said.”As far as cannabis seizures go, we have not seen one of this size since the 1970’s.”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.”

In total, more than 13,000 cannabis plants were seized. (NSW Police)
In total, more than 13,000 cannabis plants were seized. (NSW Police)

The raids began last Thursday at a property in Minimbah.There, 5593 cannabis plants were seized along with 39 pounds of dried cannabis, worth a combined total of $16.9 million.Police arrested six men, all Vietnamese nationals, including a 31-year-old permanent resident, a 41-year-old who is unlawfully in Australia, a 23-year-old and 27-year-old both currently on student visas and a 38-year-old and a 44-year-old both currently on bridging visas.The group were taken to Taree Police Station where they were all charged with multiple cultivation and supply offences.

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The raids took place after an investigation by Strike Force Harthouse. (NSW Police)
The raids took place after an investigation by Strike Force Harthouse. (NSW Police)

The next day, investigators executed two simultaneous crime scene search warrants at properties at Melinga and Moorland and seized 7760 cannabis plants.A further eight men were arrested, also all Vietnamese nationals, including a 31-year-old man permanent resident, three men who are unlawfully in Australia aged 24, 23 and 22, two men on student visas aged 22 and 27 and two men on bridging visas aged 24 and 23.The group were taken to Taree Police Station and charged.All the men arrested were refused bail at Taree Local Court and are due to reappear at the same court in January.

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