Four men have been arrested following a year-long operation by Drug Squad detectives into an alleged $20 million drug manufacturing syndicate in western Sydney.
At 11.30am today more than 90 police officers simultaneously raided 11 homes and businesses in Castle Hill, Minchinbury, Hebersham, Blackett, Erskine Park, Rooty Hill, Hassall Grove, Whalan and Moorebank.
Officers dismantled a clan lab at Blackett; seized stockpiles of chemicals at homes in Whalan and Rooty Hill; and seized pill presses at an industrial unit at Moorebank. They also seized several handguns, including a silver Colt pistol, as well as drugs and more than $20,000 cash.
Police allege they have dismantled a criminal syndicate which controlled the entire process of making methylamphetamine and MDMA (ecstasy) – from organising the purchase of precursor chemicals, to making or “cooking” the illegal drugs, to finally distributing them on the streets.
Among those arrested was a 60-year-old Castle Hill businessman who allegedly sourced a large quantity of precursors from a number of chemical companies around Sydney.
He allegedly supplied the chemicals to syndicate members who organised the drug “cooks” and the dealers who supplied the streets.
Also arrested were the alleged middleman and dealers – a 41-year-old Minchinbury man; 32-year-old Hebersham man and 37-year-old Blackett man.
Police say further arrests are likely.
All four men have been taken to Castle Hill and Mt Druitt Police Stations where they are continuing to assist with inquiries.
They will face court tomorrow on various drugs charges of conspiracy to manufacture MDMA and methylamphetamine; supply MDMA and knowingly take part in the manufacture of prohibited drugs.
The State Crime Command’s Drug Squad established Strike Force Bildera in November last year to investigate the large-scale commercial manufacture and distribution of methylamphetamine and MDMA in Sydney’s western suburbs.
Drug Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Greig Newbery, said during the investigation police painstakingly unravelled a complicated trail to eventually identify the well-organised criminal syndicate.
“Tremendous work was done by the Drug Squad detectives to follow an elaborate trail and ultimately uncover the identities of all those allegedly involved in this network of drug makers and dealers,” he said.
“Police have essentially identified and wiped out all the links in this chain of production – from the suppliers of the raw chemicals to the middlemen who organised the making of the drugs to the dealers selling on the streets.
“From our information we estimate the syndicate had the potential to manufacture drugs with an estimated potential street value of $20 million.”
Detective Superintendent Newbery said the investigation was originally triggered by information from the chemical industry.
“This is an excellent example of the industry working with police to detect suspicious anomalies in the trade of precursor chemicals – chemicals which in this case were diverted to the illegal drug trade.”
Detectives urge anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on XXX-XXX-XXXX
All reports will be dealt with in strict confidence.
Thursday, 30 Oct 2008 04:17pm