DETECTIVES have shut down two independent and sophisticated drug related crime gangs on the Gold Coast, seizing more than one million dollars in cash, more than $6 million worth of assets and 188 pounds of cannabis – including the discovery of two “cannabis bunkers” in the hinterland.
Over the past 48 hours, officers from Taskforce Maxima, Victoria Police Crime Command, and Australian Federal Police (National Anti-Gangs Squad) raided 28 properties across the Gold Coast, which has led to the arrests of 17 people on serious drug trafficking charges.
Six of these people have been charged as being a Viscous Lawless Associate, where if convicted, they could face an additional 15 years jail on top of their original sentence, or an extra 25 years if they are the “principal” of the gang.
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Police say it’s the first time Queensland has used the new VLAD legislation on a group separate to a Criminal Motorcycle Gang.
Police searched properties at Pimpama, Nerang, Hope Island, Southport, Willow Vale and Tamborine, allegedly seizing approximately 85kg of cannabis, $1 million in cash, equipment used in the supply and packaging of dangerous drugs, 12 luxury vehicles – including a Diablo Lamborghini and a Ford Mustang Shelby – and weapons.
It’s alleged one gang trafficked more than two tonnes of cannabis worth $8 million concealed in suitcases through domestic airports between Queensland and Victoria, while the other focused on the distribution of drugs throughout the general southeast Queensland area.
More than $6 million in assets will be restrained as a result of the operation, including more than five homes which may be seized as proceeds of crime.
Police allegedly found more than $400,000 in cash hidden in the walls of a rented “safe house” on Yawalpah Road at Pimpama, along with 23kg of cannabis.
A 33-year-old Pimpama man has been charged with trafficking in a dangerous drug with circumstances of aggravation that he is a vicious lawless associate and the additional allegation he is the principal office bearer of that gang.
Two hidden underground ‘cannabis bunkers’ were also uncovered at Willow Vale in the Gold Coast hinterland this morning.
Detective Inspector Terry Lawrence from Taskforce Maxima’s Protracted Unit said two shipping containers were located buried underneath a shed at the rear of the property, complete with a concealed entrance way through the shed.
“They placed two shipping containers underneath a concrete pad and on top of that, built a shed,” Detective Inspector Lawrence said.
“There was a concealed entrance way in through the shed, down into the bunker area and then of course into the area where they were growing their quality hydroponic cannabis.
“They had a secure and sealed door. It was hidden by means of shelving across the back of a wall.”
Detective Superintendent Michael Niland Taskforce Maxima Commander said the operation was a milestone for Taskforce Maxima.
“This is the first time in Queensland the new “Vicious Lawless Associate” legislation has been used against a criminal gang other than an already declared Criminal Organisation (Criminal Motorcycle Gang),” Detective Superintendent Niland said.
“This operation has identified and destroyed two sophisticated criminal gangs. We estimate the gang arrested yesterday has brought over two tonne of hydroponic cannabis worth over $8 million dollars into Queensland in the past four months and have been in operation for two years.
“We will allege the second gang has produced large quantities of hydroponic cannabis in South East Queensland.
“These are significant arrests and charges and it is our intention to take their criminal wealth away from them.”
It is anticipated more arrests will be made today as investigations are continuing.