The recent drug raid in Northern NSW town of Nimbin, the culmination of a 6 month investigation dubbed Operation Cuppa, was revealed to media on the day as netting $1 million dollars worh of cannabis, $50,000 cash, as well as finding mdma, ice, guns, a tazer and a slingshot.
This all on the surface seems to point to the Gold Coast criminal organisation that Police want the public to think is behind the ‘Laneway Boys’ who sell cannabis to locals, tourists and medicinal marijuana seekers.
But speaking to locals reveals a very different story. While three of the men charged were from Queensland, the majority of the ‘laneway boys’ as they are known in Nimbin, are locals, even respected in some quarters as being responsible for keeping ice dealers out of the township.
The reported mdma and ice found in the raids has not been assigned a cash value, (unlike the cannabis which has been given a street value of one million dollars), which indicates that these drugs were personal use only. Because the police cast a large net in the raids, these drugs could have belonged to anyone and it is disingenuous to portray this as evidence of hard drug dealing or hard drug syndications. Likewise with the weapons claimed to have been found: numerous locals who know the men under charges, have confirmed that only one gun was found and it wasn’t associated with the laneway area but was found in one of the residences raided. No firearms charges have been laid so it can only be assumed the firearm was legitmately licenced.
While there is still a lot of controversy in the township over the drug dealing that occurs in the laneway, and whether it extends to hard drugs or not, there is no shortage of respected community members who have stood up for the laneway boys in the aftermath of this raid.
It’s wise to be cautious with taking police reports to media at face value and instead look between the lines. It is standard police practice the world over to cast a large net and shake it to see what comes out. Not much consideration is given to any innocent people who get caught up, or whether genuinely guilty people’s crimes are exaggerated.
UPDATE: The amount of cannabis seized was in he order of 5kg, and the reported Street value of $1 million is wildly exaggerated. A realistic figure would be between $20,000 and $50,000.