AG officers discovered an elaborate hydroponic set-up and seized $700,000 worth of cannabis from a rural property in Wardell in June 2011.
AG officers discovered an elaborate hydroponic set-up and seized $700,000 worth of cannabis from a rural property in Wardell in June 2011. Contributed

Police enlist public help to find suburban drug dens

ILLEGAL drug houses are a target of the war on drugs with a new drug-reporting campaign launched by police to help people identify drug dens.

Significant drug seizures across the Richmond Local Area Command over the past 18 months include 94 cannabis plants at a Goonellabah address in March and 46 hydroponically grown cannabis plants plus ice, speed and LSD found at a Nimbin address in September 2012.

In August 2012 a Byron Bay man and a Ballina man were arrested in connection with the supply of 4000 ecstasy tablets, and two men were arrested at Casino after police found an underground bunker containing 33 hydroponically grown cannabis plants.

A clandestine methamphetamine lab was also uncovered by police at North Casino in April 2012.

State Crime Command Drug Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham said a new poster illustrating signs to help the public identify drug houses was part of the campaign.

He said drug houses operate in many towns and neighbourhoods across NSW.

"In 2013 alone, the NSW Police Force has closed down 86 clandestine laboratories, used to manufacture drugs like ice, speed and ecstasy, and 163 hydro houses, used for growing cannabis," he said.

He advised community members never to enter a property they suspect is being used illegally.

"Clan labs and cannabis houses are dangerous environments," he said.

"Drug houses typically house a toxic mix of chemicals in an unregulated, unstable setting - the perfect environment for a fire or explosion.

"If your suspicions are aroused by some strange signs or odd activity at a home in your neighbourhood, do not approach the property but rather contact police immediately."

How to spot a drug house

  • Strange odours coming from the property
  • Diverted electricity
  • Chemical containers and waste
  • Blacked-out windows
  • Hoses and pipes in strange places
  • Blinds down, with extremely bright indoor lighting radiating through gaps
  • Vehicles arriving at odd hours


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