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November 29, 2022

Nimbin expecting more police drug raids

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Police raid Perceptios bookshop at Nimbin. Photo Chantico Love/Facebook
Police raid Perceptios bookshop at Nimbin. Photo Chantico Love/Facebook

Darren Coyne

Nimbin residents are bracing themselves for further police attention following raids yesterday that resulted in ten arrests.

Seventy police descended on Nimbin and a home at Jiggi yesterday, arresting ten people and seizing 4.5 kilograms of cannabis in Nimbin, and a ‘large’ quantity of cannabis at Jiggi.

Police, drawn from across the state, also conducted a drug dog operation that targeted the whole township of Nimbin.

Richmond Local Area command crime manager Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay told Echonetdaily that the people arrested yesterday had been bailed to appear in the Lismore local court on 13 October.

Inspector Lindsay said the ten arrested faced various charges.

‘There were ten charges of supplying a prohibited drug, seven in dealing with the proceeds of crime and three charges of possesing a prohibited drug,’ he said.

Insp Lindsay said 4.5 kilograms of ‘high quality’ cannabis was seized with a street value of $92,000, while 136 plants were seized and destroyed, with a street value of $292,000, at the Jiggi property.

He said $23,025 was also seized, and he warned that more people would be arrested ‘in the near future’.

‘The strike force is ongoing. There may be activities in and around Nimbin and surrounds but it may not be today or tomorrow, or the next day,’ he said.

Inspector Lindsay dismissed suggestions that Nimbin was being targeted while other towns in the region such as Casino battled an ‘epidemic of ice’.

‘We’re responding to community concerns raised by people in Nimbin,’ he said.

‘The  vast majority are sick and tired of the overly overt drug dealing in the middle of town. They’ve raised those concerns with us thought community consultations, through their chamber of commerce, with the local council.

‘The community have told us this is what they wanted. They wanted action.’

Sources have told Echonetdaily that police have a three day general warrant to conduct more sweeps of the village with dogs, and are expected to return either today or tomorrow to continue their operation.

Meanwhile, the national director of the Australian Hemp Party James Moylan will be in Nimbin today to provide free legal advice to anyone who had been arrested.

Mr Moylan said reports that people arrested had been banned from entering the town as part of their bail conditions were concerning.

‘If they’ve put a condition like that on people then it’s illegal,’ he said.

Mr Moylan also questioned the use of a general instance warrant to justify the targeting of the whole village with police and sniffer dogs.

‘General instance warrants have been illegal since a high court case in the 1930s but police around Australia in the past ten years have been ignoring that,’ he said.

‘Statutes state general instance warrants are used for sniffer dog operations but with 70 police involved I very much doubt there were 70 dogs being used.

He said a particular instance warrant names a person, time, place and circumstances.

‘Police were stopping tourists and searching them citing their rationale as ‘they’re in Nimbin’ and that’s just not good enough.’

Richmond Local Area Command Superintendent Greg Martin told media yesterday that another dozen or so arrests were to be expected, while acknowledging that a much larger effort would be needed to stamp out the drug trade in Nimbin altogether.

‘It would be a significant police presence every day of every week of every year until the demand side of the equation lessened,” he ABC rado.

‘Because that’s what it’s all about, supply and demand.

‘We have two buses that go there every day from the coast… with overseas tourists who think they can go there and buy drugs legally.

‘We know that it won’t be long before it’s business as usual, but we’re not going to go away.’

He also warned that those convicted of supplying drugs face up to 25 years in jail.

During yesterday’s action, the Oasis café and Perceptios bookshop were both raided, while a third search warrant was executed at a rural address in Jiggi.

Police said in a statement that they had allegedly located a ‘large amount’ of mature cannabis plants at the property.

The raids were part of Operation Oleary, established in March this year by officers attached to the Richmond Local Area command, to target cannabis supply in Nimbin.

‘As a result of extensive inquiries, investigating officers today moved into the arrest phase of the operation; with assistance from 70 police from the Northern and Western regions, as well as officers from specialist commands, ‘ police said in a statement

‘So far eight people have been arrested in the Nimbin area.

‘It’s alleged these people have been involved in the ongoing supply of drugs; including cannabis, LSD, MDMA and prescription medication.’

Police will also allege the two businesses raided were selling prohibited drugs from the stores.

Richmond Local Area Commander Superintendent Greg Martin said the arrests were the culmination of almost six months of tireless work by his drug unit.

‘As a result of this operation, we have dismantled a criminal group we allege was responsible for supplying significant amounts of drugs throughout the Nimbin area,” Superintendent Martin said.

‘I’m aware of the reputation this area has had for a number of years, in regard to drug use and supply.

‘Concerns from members of the community have triggered today’s action, and the results should demonstrate that we are committed to working on this issue.

‘Those charged with ongoing drug supply face up to 25 years jail. We will continue to target drug offenders and treat them with the seriousness they deserve,’ he said.

‘The operation is still underway. Further seizures and arrests are expected,’ police said.

Nimbin Hemp Embassy spokesman Alan Salt told Echonetdaily that the raids were ‘full-on’.

‘There were about 30 blues, 10 undercovers, a forensic services van, and they blocked the driveway to Choices carpark and stopped everyone.

‘They also had dogs and picked up a number of loose people as well as from the businesses,’ he said.

‘We feel this is unnecessary. The whole drug war is unnecessary,’ he said.

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  1. Based on the haul of 4.5kg or 4,500grams the police value at $92,000 street value, this means an ounce (28grms) would cost $560. I’m positive the street value is about 1/2 or bit less of what is stated by the police, why do they constantly overstate the haul value, is it to earn political points? or make us feel good that they are doing their job.2032


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