Third man arrested after massive drug bust near Coffs
A THIRD accused member of a crime syndicate that had allegedly been supplying commercial quantities of illicit drugs in Northern NSW has been arrested.
The 42-year-old Missabotti man's arrest comes just days after two other men, Edward Williams and Craig Anthony Walsh, were charged by detectives from the Coffs Harbour Region Enforcement Squad.
Detectives had established Strike Force Anketell in April this year to investigate the criminal group allegedly cultivating, manufacturing and supplying drugs in the region.
Police have also accused the group of manufacturing illegal firearms.
Around the same time of these investigations, detectives were conducting inquiries into the circumstances of a shooting at Kalang allegedly involving all three men recently arrested.
Strike force investigators on Wednesday stormed two rural properties at Thora and Missabotti where they seized 3,300 cannabis plants worth a massive $6.5 million.
They also seized methylamphetamine, 3kg of MDMA worth $165,000, and a litre of a liquid they believe is GBL - also known as 'liquid ecstasy'.
Officers allegedly discovered more than 180 vehicles at the Missabotti property, with at least nine vehicles, two trailers and a motor bike believed to have been stolen.
Williams, 41, and Walsh, 36 were arrested and charged with a string of drugs and firearms offences.
They are both before the courts and have been remanded in custody.
Following further inquiries, investigators with the assistance of the Dog Unit and the Northern Region DV High Risk Offender Team arrested the third accused member at a home in Bowraville on Friday morning.
Among several firearms and drug-related offences, he has been charged in relation to having the alleged stolen vehicles on his Missabotti property.
He is facing a total of 13 charges including supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, discharging a firearm with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, using an unauthorised firearm, possessing an unauthorised firearm, manufacturing a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, manufacturing an indictable quantity of a prohibited drug that is not cannabis, three counts of drug supply, cultivating a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, knowingly direct activities of a criminal group, and having suspected stolen vehicles on premises.
He has been refused bail to appear in Port Macquarie Local Court today.
Police have said further arrests are expected to be made.
Earlier this week, Northern Region Operations Manager, A/Supt Greg Thomas, said other members of the group should expect "similar attention" in coming weeks.
He thanked the community for their assistance.
"This job commenced through information that's been provided from members of the public particularly in the Coffs area, which highlights what can be achieved with public assistance particularly in relation to drug crime, that being cultivation and drug supply," Supt Thomas said.