Meth on an industrial scale

Tamra Carr and Gavin BoxGeraldton Guardian
Acting Detective Sergeant David Costello with bags of seized methamphetamines, ammunition and drug paraphernalia.
Camera IconActing Detective Sergeant David Costello with bags of seized methamphetamines, ammunition and drug paraphernalia. Credit: Tamra Carr

Major drug busts in the Mid West have come as a government report claims regional centres are bearing the brunt of “industrial-scale” methamphetamine production.

Geraldton police arrested 14 people and seized thousands of dollars worth of meth following raids on 11 properties earlier this month.

A WA Police spokeswoman said about $10,000 worth of meth was seized, along with $12,000 cash, hundreds of rounds of unlicensed ammunition, drug paraphernalia, and 50g of cannabis.

Geraldton detectives led the three-day operation which included the police canine section and officers from Geraldton and Mullewa police stations.

It came in the wake of a report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, which says Australian law enforcement is grappling with industrial-scale methamphetamine production.

The report said regional towns have borne the brunt of damaging meth networks, as criminals move outside of metropolitan areas. It is estimated 1528.3kg of meth is consumed annually in WA.

In the Mid West and Gascoyne, about 1000 drug offences were prosecuted in courts in the past financial year.

Since January, police in the region have executed about 70 drug search warrants.

Mid West Gascoyne District Supt Roger Beer said authorities were actively targeting the transport of drugs, largely via vehicle stops of suspected couriers.

Big disruptions this year include a $50,000 dent in March as a result of Statewide drug initiative Operation Actum which, across WA, saw the confiscation of $14 million worth of drugs.

Other busts include a $1 million meth seizure on Brand Highway in October and a $1 billion haul at Batavia Marina at the end of 2017.

Supt Beer said in his experience most people were not coerced into drug dealing. Rather, he said many were motivated by greed, wanting to support a drug habit, or were simply “too lazy to work like the rest of us”.

Communities have reported meth-related issues such as long waiting lists for services, lack of rehabilitative options for child addicts, and inexperienced health staff.

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