UPDATE 11am: FOUR men arrested yesterday after search warrants were executed across the Northern Rivers region yesterday, have been charged with drug offences.
Strike Force Cloak was established by officers attached to Richmond Local Area Command Drug Unit to investigate the alleged supply of prohibited drugs in the Ballina area.
Police said they will allege the syndicate was involved in the distribution and sale of commercial quantities of methylamphetamine ('ice') and other illicit drugs.
About 12.30pm yesterday, officers attached to Richmond Local Area Command Drug Unit, with assistance from Richmond detectives, Richmond Target Action Group (TAG), and the NSW Police Dog Unit, conducted several search warrants across five properties in Byron Bay, Woodburn, Caniaba, Ballina and West Ballina.
Police located and seized a kilogram of cocaine, as well as MDMA ('ecstasy') and cannabis during the searches. Four men, aged 48, 28, 22 and 40, were arrested and taken to Ballina Police Station.
A 48-year-old man was charged with supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drugs, supplying an indictable quantity of a prohibited drug and possessing a prohibited drug (x3).
A 28-year-old man was charged with knowingly taking part in supplying a prohibited drug, concealing a serious indictable offence and possessing a prohibited drug.
A 22-year-old man was charged with commercial supply of a prohibited drug, ongoing supply of a prohibited drug, indictable supply of a prohibited drug (x4), and possessing a prohibited weapon.
All three were refused bail to appear before Lismore Local Court today.
A 40-year-old man was charged with supplying a prohibited drug, dealing with proceeds of crime, and possessing a prohibited drug (x3).
He was granted conditional bail to appear before Lismore Local Court on Monday, October 17.
Investigations by Strike Force Cloak are continuing.
INITIAL: UP TO a kilogram of cocaine has been seized by police in a series of dramatic drug raids across Ballina, Byron Bay and Lismore today.
Police have arrested four men so far and more arrests are expected in what is the culmination of Strike Force Cloak, a six-month investigation by Richmond Local Area Command police into commercial drug supply in the region.
About 12.30pm officers attached to Richmond Local Area Command Drug Unit, with assistance from Richmond detectives, Richmond Target Action Group, and the Police Dog Unit, attended a premises on Hayman Street, West Ballina.
It was there that police will allege they located and seized one kilogram of cocaine.
Search warrants are still being executed across the remaining five properties in Cypress Court at Byron Bay, Alfred Street at Woodburn, Melaleuca Court at Caniaba, Southern Cross Drive at Ballina and a caravan park in West Ballina.
Four men, aged 49, 43, 28 and 21, were all arrested and taken to Ballina Police Station where they are currently assisting police with their inquiries.
Police will allege those arrested were involved in an organised operation to purchase and distribute significant amounts of ice and cocaine on an ongoing basis.
It will be alleged the ring dealt in large sales of the drugs, in the realm of $20,000 at a time, or several ounces of ice, to lower level dealers.
Richmond police Detective Inspector Cameron Lindsay said there was evidence to suggest their supply of drugs was from outside the region, from overseas in some cases, as well as southeast Queensland and the Sydney region.
More generally local police were liaising with federal and state crime agencies in their bid to target increasingly brazen drug supply operations on the Northern Rivers.