How four major busts dealt killer blow to Coast drug trade

POLICE have put a significant dent on drug trade across the Sunshine Coast, with exclusive figures revealing positive results in taking offenders off the streets.

Millions of dollars in illicit drugs have been wiped off the map in a number of serious raids which targeted dealers at the top of the food chain.

Detective Inspector Dave Drinnen said although major crime syndicates were hit this year, police were more vigilant than ever.

"No area is immune or safe from being impacted by drugs and we make sure to be one step ahead," he said.

 

Detective Inspector Dave Drinnen speaks to the media about an early morning drug bust on the Sunshine Coast.
Detective Inspector Dave Drinnen speaks to the media about an early morning drug bust on the Sunshine Coast. Warren Lynam

According to Queensland Police Service, drug charges were down nearly 6 per cent from last year, with 4262 offences in 2018 compared to 4498 in 2017.

Crime Stoppers Queensland received 861 reports for drug-related crime on the Coast, with 179 of those specifically related to ice.

Of these anonymous tip-offs, 112 arrests have been made and 340 charges laid to date.

Despite taking these people off the streets, Det Insp Drinnen said drug trade never stopped.

"Unfortunately, there is large access to drugs and as quick as you shut one down, another pops up," he said.

"With the danger of the dark web and other forms of trafficking, we put specialised teams on the job to shut them down."

Drug trafficking charges dropped 62.5 per cent from last year, with 32 offences compared to 52.

According to Crime Stoppers, more than $455,000 worth of drugs was taken off the streets on the Coast from its reports to date this year.

 

Three arrested in 'hazardous' drug lab bust:
Emergency services investigate a Landsborough home where a potential drug laboratory was discovered during a police raid.
Three arrested in 'hazardous' drug lab bust: Emergency services investigate a Landsborough home where a potential drug laboratory was discovered during a police raid. Stuart Cumming

Det Insp Drinnen said some of the long-term operations successfully delivered this year were the result of countless hours on the job.

"We have very detailed, specialist staff who work solely on developing these tasks," he said.

Det Insp Drinnen said while significant drug rings were the big issue, smaller offences were just as important.

"There is still a lot of activity in this space, but we look at the bigger picture," he said.

"We continue to improve and issue immediate action to those networks that operate under the higher levels."

 

Police have seized more than $1 million in illicit drugs in a major operation on the Sunshine Coast.
Police have seized more than $1 million in illicit drugs in a major operation on the Sunshine Coast. Queensland Police Service

DRUG CRIME ON THE COAST: A YEAR IN REVIEW

(2018: January to November)

  • 2017: 4498 offences
  • 2018: 4262 offences
  • 5 per cent drop in drug offences from 2017-2018
  • Highest month: May, 485 offences
  • Lowest month: February, 236 offences
  • 62.5 per cent drop in drug trafficking offences from 2017-2018
  • Highest month: January, 7 offences
  • Lowest month: May, July and August, 1 offence each
  • Crime Stoppers received 861 reports of drug crime
  • From these reports, 112 arrests and 340 charges laid
  • $453,317 worth of drugs taken off streets thanks to Crime Stopper tip-offs on the Coast
  • Drug crimes are the top reported crime type to Crime Stoppers Queensland.
  • 2017: 855 reports to Crime Stoppers relating to drug crimes in the Sunshine Coast
  • 2017: $1,053,666 worth of drugs seized from Crime Stoppers reports

Det Insp Drinnen came across different and surprising concealment methods, including a recent raid where drugs were found in a hand-made gun.

Although, making arrests was just one pillar of the police system.

"It's not just about enforcement, it's about education as well," he said.

Det Insp Drinnen said police worked closely with community groups and schools to raise awareness about the impacts of drugs.

BIGGEST DRUG BUSTS OF 2018

RAT IN THE RANKS

Millions of dollars in drugs was taken off the Sunshine Coast streets in July in the biggest reported raid of the year.

Officers arrested 28 people on 110 charges after discovering more than $1 million worth of cocaine, MDMA, marijuana and steroids thanks to a tip off from an alleged member of the same syndicate.

 

Police have seized more than $1 million in illicit drugs in a major operation on the Sunshine Coast.
Police have seized more than $1 million in illicit drugs in a major operation on the Sunshine Coast. Queensland Police Service

Detectives also seized $2.4 million in cash, 15 cars, jewellery, and computer equipment worth about $600,000.

 

Police have seized more than $1 million in illicit drugs in a major operation on the Sunshine Coast.
Police have seized more than $1 million in illicit drugs in a major operation on the Sunshine Coast. Queensland Police Service

Buderim man Andre Barka Hagen, 28, was arrested following the closure of the 17-month long police investigation, Operation Papa Argyle.

The court heard a man allegedly involved in the syndicate gave evidence against Mr Hagen to bolster his chance at a lesser punishment.

TOP OF FOOD CHAIN CHOMPED

In the most recent successful raid, police busted three men operating a "high-level" drug operation from homes in Woombye and Palmwoods.

Officers raided the home early Monday morning to find more than 1kg of ice, cocaine, guns and $10,000 cash.

 

Multiple police officers in unmarked vehicles raided a Woombye home early Monday morning and arrested multiple people in relation to a drug operation.
Multiple police officers in unmarked vehicles raided a Woombye home early Monday morning and arrested multiple people in relation to a drug operation. Shayla Bulloch

Detective Inspector Dave Drinnen said 12-month operation was a huge success with $100,000 of drugs taken off the streets.

 

A portion on the drugs police seized at a Woombye address in an organised crime raid.
A portion on the drugs police seized at a Woombye address in an organised crime raid. Police Media

The men were allegedly at the "top of the food chain" in drug supply on the Coast.

BACKYARD DRUG LAB

In October, three people were arrested after a raid on a Landsborough property where officers found a suspected drug lab.

 

Three arrested in 'hazardous' drug lab bust:
Emergency services investigate a Landsborough home where a potential drug laboratory was discovered during a police raid.
Three arrested in 'hazardous' drug lab bust: Emergency services investigate a Landsborough home where a potential drug laboratory was discovered during a police raid. Stuart Cumming

Emergency services and a HAZMAT unit were called out to the Idris Ct home and cordoned off the street as crews raided the home.

Dean Anthony Vincent Maxworthy, 46, fronted court last month charged with nine offences.

 

Three arrested in 'hazardous' drug lab bust:
Police and emergency services investigate an Idris Court home in Landsborough.
Three arrested in 'hazardous' drug lab bust: Police and emergency services investigate an Idris Court home in Landsborough. Stuart Cumming

The case has been adjourned until January.

CANNABIS PLANTS RIPPED OUT

More than $200,000 in drugs was seized in March after police raided properties growing cannabis plants.

A member of the public tipped off police which led to the raid on four properties where they found 29 mature cannabis plants and 11kg of dried cannabis.

 

A Sunshine Coast drug syndicate has been busted and $200,000 seized.
A Sunshine Coast drug syndicate has been busted and $200,000 seized. Queensland Police

Tactical crime squad officer in charge senior sergeant Scott Wiggins said the two-metre high plants were the "biggest he had seen".

Each plant held a street value of $500, totalling $200,000.

Five people were charged in relation to the raid on properties at Gheerulla, Yandina, Pacific Paradise and Yaroomba.



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