ECSTASY SOLD IN CITY SHOP
A CITY convenience store on one of Sydney's busiest streets is openly
selling ecstasy and marijuana to customers.
A covert investigation by The Sunday Telegraph over four nights uncovered
the illegal racket on Oxford St, Darlinghurst.
Oxford St is a popular thoroughfare for shoppers and tourists who were
passing only metres from where the drugs were being sold and used.
An undercover reporter from The Sunday Telegraph was last week able to
purchase two bags of marijuana for $20 each and an ecstasy tablet for $40.
The reporter approached a counter-assistant at the Oxford Mini-Mart, a
24-hour convenience store near Taylor Square.
The reporter asked for Tally-Ho, the code-word for marijuana used at the
store. Handing over two $20 bills, we were given two plastic sachets of the
The reporter then asked for "pills" and was handed a single tablet imprinted
with the mark of an ecstasy supplier.
The counter-assistant, a man of Middle Eastern appearance in his 20s,
stashed the money below the counter -- not in the till -- and carried on
serving customers with groceries.
Similar transactions were witnessed as frequently as once every five
Some drug customers appeared as young as 16, others were middle-aged.
Hundreds of dollars in cash were handed over in some transactions.
The shop seemed to be on first-name terms with its regular drug customers.
It had even pre-prepared orders waiting for some.
Little attempt was made to conceal the illicit trade.
At 10pm on Friday, a girl in her early 20s approached the counter and
moments later left the store. She appeared to be buying drugs on behalf of
On the street, the girl received a phone call. She went back into the store
for less than a minute before heading to a nearby bar.
On another occasion, a black car pulled up. A passenger went into the store
while the driver kept the engine running.
The customer picked up what appeared to be a prepared order and handed over
a wad of notes before jumping back into the car.
An estimated 60 deals were done in five hours while the shop was under
surveillance by reporters and photographers.
Many customers leaving the store were seen going to local nightclubs.
The convenience store is only four doors from the Sol Bar, where a bouncer
was shot in the thigh on Friday night.
At least one nearby nightclub directed patrons to the store.
A staff member from the Ruby Rabbit bar told our reporter "pills" were
available over the counter at the Mini-Mart.
"Tell him I sent you," he said.
The Sunday Telegraph was alerted to the over-the-counter racket by chance
when its reporter was shopping at the convenience store last Saturday and
saw drugs being sold.
It alerted police on Friday of its finding and handed the marijuana and
ecstasy to a duty officer at Surry Hills police station.
The police said they were unaware the store was selling drugs, although they
had investigated another store in the area.
Police asked for time to make inquiries before The Sunday Telegraph
published its expose.
Because of the dangers of drug abuse, the newspaper has decided not to delay
Last year, about 380 people died from drug overdoses across Australia.
The dangers of ecstasy were highlighted when a Sydney schoolgirl, Anna Wood,
15, died after taking a tablet at a rave function in 1995.
That led to the closure of the Phoenician Club and pledges by the State
Government to clamp down on drug dealing.
Five years ago, The Sunday Telegraph exposed drug dealing at Cafe Amsterdam
in Kings Cross.
That led to several arrests and the eventual closure of the venue.
Following the controversy, the NSW Government introduced tough new laws
giving police powers to close down businesses if there were reasonable
grounds to believe drugs were being commercially supplied.
The marijuana bought in Oxford St was positively identified at the
University of NSW's testing laboratory.
The ecstasy pill was tested using a special kit purchased by The Sunday
UNSW analytical laboratory manager Terence Flynn said the pill appeared to
have been made by an experienced manufacturer.
"The smiley face markings on (it) indicate it's from a fairly big supplier,"
"It's not a backyard job."