NARRANDERA has emerged as the state's second-biggest hotspot for drugs, outperformed only by Byron Bay as the most notorious local government area for drug offences, crime data has shown.
The town of less than 4000 people was awarded the dubious honour in the latest data by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. The report showed that earlier this year, Narrandera entered the top two in the state for drug offences, calculated by the rate of per 100,000 people.
Over two years, crime data has shown Narrandera's battle with drugs has not let up. Griffith, Gundagai, Junee and Wagga also have rates of drug offences that exceed or come close to the state average.
Narrandera mayor Jenny Clarke said she was worried by the "very high" figure and likened it to a drug "epidemic".
"There's no point burying our heads in the sand over this," she said.
"It really is well and truly worrying - it's becoming of epidemic proportions."
Councillor Clarke said Narrandera's reputation for drugs was something that she had heard through word-of-mouth.
She pointed to the use of ice, also known as crystal methamphetamine, as gripping the town's young adults and even children.
"For goodness sake, don't do it."Jenny Clarke
"They just get so caught up in it. We have to end this," she said.
"For goodness sake, don't do it."
The drug ice has recently grabbed media headlines and the attention of police for the range of mental health problems and psychosis that it thrusts on its users.
Today, a man will front Wagga Local Court over an alleged ice lab at Marrar.
It comes on the back of an arrest of a 29-year-old man at a house in Ashmont, where $10,000 of ice was seized from the property just last week.
Wagga police crime manager Inspector Darren Cloake has since vowed to step up patrols in the city's low socioeconomic suburbs.
In September, the senior supervisor of highway patrol's Riverina cluster, acting Senior Sergeant John Aichinger, said ice was the main illegal drug detected among drivers.
He told Wagga Local Court that the city's ice use was no different to its prevalence in Sydney.
"I think you will find Sydney is in the grip of an ice epidemic, and Wagga is no different," he said.
"Ice is very prevalent."