POLICE may have smashed an extensive drug ring with 13 arrests and dozens more expected to be made on Wednesday – including a local corrections officer.
In an unprecedented operation, 110 police executed 12 search warrants across Wagga, Coolamon and Junee yesterday morning that saw 12 males and one female arrested and charged with drug supply, property and other offences.
While Superintendent Bob Noble expected more than 30 people to be arrested in coming days under Wagga Local Area Command’s (LAC) Strike Force Calyx, he explained the extent of those in custody to be “eye-opening”.
Among them, a 31-year-old Wagga man, who worked as a corrections officer, will face several charges including supplying a prohibited drug.
Troy Weyland, 26, and Matthew White, 25, were the first to appear in Wagga Local Court on Tuesday afternoon.
White, accused of making nine separate drug deals in 30 days, put to the court in a bail application it may be a case of mistaken identity. White was refused bail and Weyland did not apply for it. Both cases were adjourned to August 12.
Upwards of a dozen other charged people are expected in court on Wednesday as the operation continues.
Police are now not ruling out the possibility that they form part of a larger drug network or are have connections to statewide organised crime gangs.
"There’s certainly some linkage between individuals we've apprehended today,” Superintendent Noble said. “In terms of a sophisticated drug network ... there's no doubt there's a degree of sophistication and co-ordination between some individuals."
Superintendent Noble said the Wagga LAC was no exception to a national drug epidemic, with varying quantities of methamphetamine, cannabis, MDMA and ecstasy seized.
Motor vehicles, motor cycles, tools, stolen goods, and more than $40,000 cash was also located.
Police, who believe a recent wave of break-ins and thefts was spurred by drug use, say the arrests will ease the issue.
Strike Force Calyx formed in February to investigate more than 40 people believed to be involved in the supply of ice, MDMA and cannabis.
Detectives and uniformed police then gathered five months’ of intelligence from community and police resources to execute Tuesday's search warrants.
“Post operation, we need to sit down and have a sober conversation going forward with a whole-of-community (response) to address this problem,” Superintendent Noble said.
Assistant Commissioner Gary Worboys, the commander of the Southern Region, briefed local police before they launched the operation.