As the COVID-19 pandemic distracts many Australians, NSW police have continued to fight Australia’s biggest problem: cannabis.
In a series of three raids in Sydney’s South West, Police have uncovered nearly 700 cannabis plants worth over $1 million. The raids were organised by Bankstown Police Area Command detectives, who established Strike Force Polar.
The taskforce (which sounds like it was named by Brooklyn 99’s Jake Peralta) investigates the supply, manufacture and cultivation of drugs throughout the Bankstown area. Strike Force Polar has already been hugely successful, uncovering over $670,000 worth of drugs in a raid in May.
However, this success apparently didn’t warrant too much celebration, as NSW Police’s efforts continue this week. Assisted by the South West Metropolitan Region Operations Support Group, three homes were raided from 8.20 am on Wednesday, June 3rd. Over 184 live cannabis plants were seized in Panania, 384 live cannabis plants were seized in Sefton and 121 live cannabis plants were seized in Georges Hall.
Over 1.7 kilos of dried cannabis was also recovered from the Georges Hall address. According to the latest prices of weed in Australia, it alone is worth between $25,500 and $34,000 in Sydney. Altogether, NSW Police have estimated the value of the cannabis seized during the raid to be $1.7 million.
Despite NSW’s police’s crackdown on Cannabis, the value of Australia’s cannabis market continues to grow. According to Prohibition Partners, Australia’s cannabis industry is projected to be worth $1.5 billion by 2024. In the same timeframe, the value of cannabis is set to skyrocket by 2,974%.
As of early 2020, there are 18 cannabis companies listed on the ASX, with large cannabis manufacturing facilities being built in both Tasmania and Melbourne.
However, while Strike Force Polar is named like an action movie, this story has an anticlimactic ending. Police arrested a 66-year old man at the Beale Street, Georges Hall address, taking him to the infamous Bankstown Police Station. The man, from Cabramatta, has been charged with the following offences under the NSW 1985 Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act:
- Cultivation of cannabis (between an indictable and commercial quantity)
- Supply cannabis (between an indictable and commercial quantity)
- Possess cannabis (between an indictable and commercial quantity)
- Cultivate Cannabis by Enhanced Indoor Means.
If found guilty, the man faces prison, as the cultivation of cannabis in an indictable quantity alone carries a 10-year prison sentence. The man has since been denied bail and will appear at Campbelltown Local Court on Thursday, June 4th.