It appears that COVID-19 wasn’t the only thing being transported across Australian borders this week, as a police operation has uncovered a major marijuana trafficking operation.
Homes in Thebarton, Findon, Morphett Vale and Netherby were raided earlier this week, as South Australia Police carried out a search warrant on 19 homes they believe were housing cannabis. Sophisticated hydroponics operations were found in 12 of the properties, with evidence of cannabis in all 19 homes. At this time, it does not appear that anyone was living in these hydroponics homes, and they are believed to be the work of a single crime syndicate.
In total, the police seized 642 live cannabis plants, $29,000 in cash and 61 kilograms of dried cannabis. According to the average cost of weed in Australia, the dried cannabis is valued upwards of $686,000.
However, this cannabis may have been headed Australia-wide, as police uncovered evidence of cross-border cannabis trafficking. Police also believe the proceeds of this operation were being sent to Europe. At this time, police have seized a vehicle they believe was involved in the trafficking operation but believe a range of trucks and postal services were being used for cross-border carrying.
Announcing the raids, Detective Superintendent Stephen Taylor told the ABC:
There’s certainly evidence to indicate that drugs have been going across the border. They use all sorts of routes… They’re always constantly evolving.
Superintendent Taylor also told the media that COVID-19 has been impacting drug-traffickers, as the demand for cannabis has increased during the pandemic.
In connection with these raids, three people have been charged. A 37-year old man from Hope Valley has been charged with cannabis cultivation, while a 39-year old from Magill was charged with cannabis cultivation in a commercial quantity and money laundering.
The third man, a 40-year-old from Munno Para West, was charged with cannabis cultivation in a commercial quantity and theft of electricity – as police believe the hydroponics homes were using illegally diverted power to avoid detection. If found guilty, the men face at least ten years of prison time each.