Police sniff out offenders on highway

By SAMANTHA HEALY

MOTORISTS were reportedly in high spirits yesterday as police waved them towards the Random Breath Test van, but some were probably left wishing they had cleaned out their car.

Cannabis, vehicle defects and at least one driver who had had one drink too many, were discovered during the all-day operation, which involved uniformed police, detectives, highway patrol officers and Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) officers, who all joined forces for the first of many operations to be conducted in the lead-up to Christmas.

Dubbed Strike Force Banglelong, police hit the highway early, setting up at the RTA check point in the southbound lanes of the Pacific Highway at Chinderah.

Cars were directed to the side road where drivers were breathalysed, their vehicles scrutinised and checked for defects.

A single police drug detection dog, which made the trip up from Sydney, waved its well-trained nose throughout each vehicle, looking for any traces of illegal substances.

Inspector Owen King of Tweed/Byron LAC said the two-day operation was set-up to target drug and traffic offences along the highway, but was not a response to recent reports of cross-border drug trafficking.

"There was no specific intelligence. We run operations like this when we have the resources to do so," Insp King said.

"And it coincides with the unofficial end of schoolies but we are also looking for any movements of drugs, drink drivers, defective vehicles, and traffic offences."

Detective Senior Constable Gary Ponting said the mood of most motorists had been positive, with frontline officers saying drivers were happy to see them out on the roads conducting operations.

But while some were happy to see the thin blue line, others would not have been quite so eager.

"We have found small amounts of cannabis and one driver with a low range PCA," Det Snr Const Ponting said.

"We have found a lot of traffic offences however. Mainly license and registration offences and a number of unroadworthy vehicles.

"But we will know more when we look at the figures."

Strike Force Banglelong will continue today, with police conducting operations until 8pm in accordance with a search warrant.



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