$1MIL TWEED DRUG BUST
By LUIS FELIU
POLICE have seized almost $1 million worth of cannabis and property after a major raid on a rural block near Stokers Siding uncovered a sophisticated hydroponic growing operation in a large farm shed.
In one of the biggest busts of indoor or hydroponically-grown cannabis in the district, officers from the Tweed-Byron Target Action Group searched the premises in Ryans Road at Smiths Creek on Tuesday and found about 85kg of cannabis leaf and 129 mature cannabis plants.
They also seized a late-model Toyota Landcruiser four-wheel-drive vehicle and trailer, three shotguns, a large amount of hydroponic equipment and other property used to set up the massive operation.
Police estimate the cannabis haul, which also included a couple of litres of cannabis oil and a small lab to make it, to have a potential street value of about $800,000 with the property seized estimated at about $200,000.
A 23-year-old man and a 21-year-old woman were arrested and charged with various drug and firearms offences and were bailed to appear in Tweed Heads Court on April 3.
The raid followed a tip-off during ongoing investigations into drug-producing activities in the Tweed-Byron area.
Police found a number of secret rooms and bunkers in the shed used for storage of packaged cannabis.
Among the equipment seized were large lights and fans, trolleys, concrete mixers, containers, a toolbox and assorted gear used in the illegal enterprise.
Tweed-Byron police chief, Superintendent Michael Kenny, described the huge haul as a very good result for police.
"This is one of a number of ongoing operations that the Target Action Group is running and there will be others," Supt Kenny said.
"This was a very sophisticated hydro set-up given the amount of equipment we brought back and the drugs seized ? the cannabis plants also were of good quality, thus the street value," he said.
Supt Kenny said the large quantity of drugs netted was likely to make a dent in the local cannabis supply.
The mature plants are set to be burnt today while the packaged cannabis and oil will be analysed and certified before being destroyed.