Cannabis with a potential street value of $440,000 was seized by Bega police from a Burragate house on Sunday after a three-month ongoing investigation.
Inside the house, police found the premises had been gutted and set up exclusively as a drying house to prepare cannabis for future use.
The cannabis leaf weighed an estimated 44kg.
Police arrested a 37-year-old Nowra male for the offence of supplying a commercial quantity of cannabis.
Parrish Newling, 37, of Yalwal Road West Nowra, appeared in Moruya Local Court on Tuesday on a charge of supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, and had his case adjourned to April 22, when he will appear at Batemans Bay Local Court via AVL.
Bail was refused.
Police facts state that Mr Newling was arrested after almost 45kg of cannabis was found when a search warrant was executed on a home at Burragate, about 50km west of Eden last Sunday.
It was about 4pm on Sunday when the man was arrested at a home in Burragate Road. Police allege internal walls had been removed from the building and it was being used to dry cannabis.
The Burragate drug bust wrapped up a week of raids as part of the NSW Police Force Cannabis Eradication Program.
Police from Bega, the Far South Coast Target Action Group, specialist police from the Highway Patrol Command on dirt bikes and the Police Air-wing attended in excess of 15 locations throughout the Bega Shire over two days last week – including several private properties as well as crown land.
“The cannabis eradication program is part of an ongoing proactive operation targeting the cultivation and supply of prohibited drugs,” Detective Sergeant Justin Marks from Bega Police said.
“The program predominantly is intelligence-driven - however, we rely greatly on community support with a great deal of valuable information coming from the local residents.”
Police attended several properties in the Quaama area and identified a private property and, with the assistance of the police helicopter, located and seized 51 mature cannabis plants, 2.5kg of cannabis leaf and identified an elaborate irrigation system and preparation area to cultivate the cannabis.
Police allege the street value of this cannabis alone is worth $106,000.
“Overall, the cannabis eradication program netted over 100 mature cannabis plants, which were ready to be harvested and no doubt sold locally,” Detective Sergeant Marks said.
“At this stage a number of individuals have been charged for supplying, cultivating and possessing prohibited drugs and further arrests are expected in the near future.
“This is not a one-off operation and we will continue to investigate any contemporary information we receive in relation to the supply of prohibited drugs.”
Since January, police in Bega have executed 14 search warrants in and around the Bega shire regarding the supply and possession of prohibited drugs.
“As a result of these search warrants, 16 persons have been issued with court attendance notices for a variety of offences including cultivating cannabis, possessing prohibited drugs and supplying prohibited drugs,” Detective Sergeant Marks said.
“All of these persons are facing serious charges, which are currently before the court.”
The man was refused bail and will appear at Moruya Local Court today.
“If you are in the business of supplying prohibited drugs of any type you will eventually be arrested and if convicted could face a lengthy period of time in jail,” Detective Sergeant Marks said.
“We see daily the impact prohibited drug use has on this community, whether it is attributed to the increase of crime including break enter and steal offences to support one’s addiction, as well as the social side including mental health where people are so seriously affected by drugs they need assistance from health workers.
“We also see the personal side involving an increase in reported domestic and personal violence offences as a result of continued drug use.
“It is concerning that these types of offences consume so much of the police, health and emergency services time, which could better spent elsewhere,” he said.
Since the beginning of 2013 police in the Bega area alone have seized drugs with a street value in excess of $1million.
These include cannabis, the street drug ice and amphetamines.
“We have also seized a considerable amount of cash and assets, which we believe were used in the supply of prohibited drugs and we will continue to proactively investigate these types of offences,” Detective Sergeant Marks said.
“There have been over 60 individuals charged for drug and drug-related offences throughout this time with a majority of these offenders still to appear to court.”