News / Featured / 19th January 2022
Up in smoke: arrests made after Dandry drug seizure
Coonabarabran has been thrust into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons after a large-scale police operation uncovered the biggest haul of cannabis in Australia during a raid on a Dandry property on Tuesday, 18 January.
Police directly linked the operation to a Vietnamese crime syndicate.
The haul is estimated to be valued in the vicinity of $67 million, which police described as a “sophisticated operation”.
The search resulted in the confiscation of 19,082 cannabis plants, and was part of strike force Harthouse, which investigates the cultivation and supply of cannabis across NSW.
Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent John Watson said it stood out as one of the largest operations he had seen.
“In terms of scale, this is one of the largest and most commercial cannabis enterprises we’ve seen with significant infrastructure, including two large dams, commercial generators, earth moving equipment, across multiple sites, all of which require attention from workers seven days a week,” he said.
“There were 22 grow houses, each grow house in excess of 75 metres in length and 25 metres wide, full of of illicit cannabis plants.”
State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith was also in Coonabarabran on Wednesday. He said 11.5 tonnes of high end cannabis was seized just prior to it being harvested.
He said the proceeds would have eventually filtered through to international connections.
“This was a sophisticated processing plant with the sole purpose of preparing commodity for market," he explained.
“Make no mistake, if this operation was not dismantled, the cash sales from this crop would have flowed through poker machines of regional pubs, clubs and casinos across the state, then sent offshore or used to fund other criminal activities.”
As a result of the raid police arrested an charged six people, five men and a woman, aged between 23 and 42 with numerous drug related offences.
They were refused bail and appeared in Coonamble Local Court on Wednesday.
Investigators are also working closely with the Department of Home Affairs regarding the visa status of the group.
In a press conference held at the Coonabarabran Police Station on Wednesday morning, police didn’t rule out further arrests in the coming weeks.
“Investigations will be ongoing, I won’t be ruling out more arrests…” Det Supt Watson said.
“There still are a number of lines of enquiry in respect to the owner of the property and a whole other range of enquiries going on with operation Harthouse and that is something we will continue to do.”
Since its inception the members of strike force Harthouse have charged 51 people and seized 69,654 cannabis plants valued at more than $217 million.