Alleged 'kingpin' of Northern Rivers drug network arrested
UPDATE 4.30pm: ONE of the men arrested by police during last night and this morning's raids was the alleged 'kingpin' of a major local drug network.
The man, 35, was arrested with a woman, 43, after police pulled over their vehicle at Mummulgum on the Bruxner Highway about 7pm last night.
The pair were not arrested at the alleged clandestine drug lab in Tenterfield, as previously reported, but were intercepted en route.
During a search of the vehicle, police seized cash and the car was taken for forensic examination.
Both the man and the woman were charged with conspiracy to manufacture a large commercial quantity of drugs, and break and enter offences.
The man was also charged with being the director of a criminal group, dealing in the proceeds of crime, and two counts of manufacturing an indictable quantity of an indictable drug.
They were both refused bail and will appear at Lismore Local Court on January 9, 2017.
The arrest is a major coup for local police who have been targeting illicit drug networks in the Casino area in recent months.
Police have also arrested two more men today during a number of raids on properties on the region.
They are expected to be charged with drug offences. One of them will also be charged with firearm offences.
UPDATE 2.45pm: A THIRD person has been arrested following a series of drug raids across the region this morning and last night.
The man was taken into custody on a Rappville property where police seized a cache of firearms, including several rifles and a shotgun this morning.
Richmond crime manager Cameron Lindsay told a media conference in Lismore the raids disrupted what was a large-scale commercial operation to manufacture and distribute ice, particularly in the Casino area.
The first raid took place at an "active clandestine lab" in suburban Tenterfield.
"One of the charges we laid last night was conspire to manufacture a large commercial amount of methyl amphetamine," Det Chief Insp Lindsay said.
"This is a clandestine laboratory setup to produce large amounts of ice, which we know is a destructive and evil drug in our community.
"We believe these arrests will have a significant impact on the availability of ice in this area," he added.
Police believe the group of people allegedly behind the operation had been at it for a significant amount of time.
During the seven raids police also seized chemicals and equipment allegedly used in the manufacture of methyl amphetamine, and thousands of dollars in cash.
Det Insp Lindsay said it disturbing that explosive chemicals also toxic to humans beings were being used in a residential area in a small community.
A list of the charges faced by the two men and a woman arrested will be released shortly.
More arrests are expected.
FRIDAY 10.30am: POLICE have raided an clandestine drug lab at Tenterfield and a string of other properties allegedly connected to a widespread ice dealing operation.
A man and a woman were arrested by late yesterday at site of the alleged drug lab in Tenterfield and a second property was subsequently raided in suburban Casino.
Early this morning police from the Richmond Local Area Command swung into action again, raiding five more properties - two more in Casino, one at Rappville, one at Teven Rd, Teven, and a rural property at The Pinnacles near Grafton.
It's understood the Teven property was the same address where two men were arrested last Thursday night on alleged bestiality charges.
The suspected drug lab in Tenterfield has been locked down by police as they await specialist chemical operations unit from Sydney.
"The site is under guard at the moment and will be dismantled this afternoon and tomorrow by specialists," Richmond police crime manager Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Lindsay said.
Det Insp Lindsay a large amount of cash, firearms, and chemicals had been seized at the properties.
The guns include a shotgun, a 303 rifle, and several other long arms seized at the Rappville address.
More arrests were likely in coming days, Det Insp Lindsay said.
The raids were part of Strike Force Thermal, which police set up several months ago to investigate the manufacture and supply of ice in the Casino area.
"We are appealing for anyone for information about the manufacture of ice to contact Crime Stoppers or Casino police," Det Insp Lindsay said.