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Seven charged after $40 million of illicit drugs seized and large-scale clandestine laboratory uncovered

Friday, 13 August 2021 11:11:50 AM

Drug and Firearms Squad detectives have charged seven men after seizing illicit drugs with a street value of more than $40 million and uncovering a large-scale clandestine laboratory near Bathurst.

Earlier this year, detectives from the Drug and Firearms Squad’s Chemical Operations Team established Strike Force Vindin to investigate a criminal syndicate involved in the supply of precursors and manufacture of prohibited drugs across NSW.

Following extensive investigations, strike force detectives executed three search warrants at storage sheds at Prospect earlier this month.

During the searches, officers seized 150kg of methylamphetamine (ice) and 14kg of cocaine, with a combined estimated potential street value of $33 million.

Officers also seized $1.5 million cash, as well as large quantities of chemicals and solvents consistent with the manufacture of prohibited drugs.

As part of ongoing inquiries, strike force detectives executed a further six search warrants at properties at Prospect, Pemulwuy, Bonnyrigg Heights, Millers Point, Hunters Hill and St Clair from 6am yesterday (Thursday 12 August 2021).

Two crime scene warrants were also executed at a separate property at Pemulwuy and a remote rural property at Pyramul – about 70km north of Bathurst.

Detectives were assisted throughout the operation by Raptor Squad, Public Order and Riot Squad, North West Metropolitan Region Operations Support Group, South West Metropolitan Region Enforcement Squad, Forensic Evidence and Technical Services Command and officers from across the Western Region, as well as Fire & Rescue NSW HAZMAT.

During the Millers Point search, investigators seized $3 million cash located inside four large black duffle bags, and a further $50,000 cash inside a safe, as well as prohibited drugs and mobile phones.

During the Prospect search, officers seized $130,000 cash, a Range Rover, documentation, luxury watches, electronic devices and documentation.

Detectives also located hundreds of litres of chemicals and approximately 400kg of liquid – believed to be unrefined cocaine – from a Pemulway residence.

At the remote rural property at Pryamul, police uncovered a large sophisticated clandestine laboratory.

During the initial deconstruction, officers located a further 15kg of cocaine, as well as chemicals and thousands of litres of liquids.

Further items including cars, motorcycles and two air rifles were also seized.

All items and substances seized during the operation will undergo further forensic examination.

Two men – aged 33 and 54 – were arrested during a vehicle stop at Pyramul.

In a subsequent search of the Mitsubishi Triton, officers located several buckets containing 140kg of liquid – believed to be further unrefined cocaine.

The younger man was charged with five counts of supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), knowingly deal with proceeds of crime and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity. He was refused bail to appear at Lithgow Local Court today (Friday 13 August 2021).

The older man was issued a $1000 PIN for breaching the Public Health Order and released pending further inquiries.

A further two men – aged 51 and 53 – were arrested at the Pyramul property and taken to Mudgee Police Station.

The younger man was charged with manufacture prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.

The older man was charged with manufacture prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), deal with property proceeds of crime and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.

Both men were refused bail to appear at Mudgee Local Court today (Friday 13 August 2021).

Officers are working with the Department of Home Affairs regarding the visa status of the older man.

During the Sydney-based search warrants, four further men were arrested and taken to local police stations.

A 31-year-old St Clair man was arrested during a vehicle stop at Austral. In a subsequent search of the VW Golf, police seized $40,000 cash and an air rifle. The man was taken to Liverpool Police Station and charged with two counts of supply prohibited drug (commercial quantity), knowingly deal with proceeds of crime and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity. He appeared at Liverpool Local Court yesterday, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at Penrith Local Court on Friday 24 September 2021.

A 32-year-old Prospect man was charged with two counts of supply prohibited drug (commercial quantity), two counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime and two counts of supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity). He was refused bail and is due to appear at Blacktown Local Court today (Friday 13 August 2021).

A 31-year-old Bonnyrigg Heights man was charged with two counts of supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), knowingly deal with proceeds of crime and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity. He appeared at Burwood Local Court yesterday, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court on Wednesday 6 October 2021.

A 33-year-old Millers Point man was charged with two counts of supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), deal with property proceeds of crime and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity. He appeared at Central Local Court yesterday, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at Parramatta Local Court on Thursday 7 October 2021.

The combined estimated potential street value of the illicit drugs seized during the operation is more than $40 million.

Investigations under Strike Force Vindin are continuing.

Anyone with information that may assist Strike Force Vindin investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.