Five charged after Wollongong drug raids: photos, video

Five men have been charged with more than 160 drug-related offences following a major police operation across the Illawarra on Thursday. 

Police raided homes at Port Kembla, Warrawong and Lake Heights as part of Strike Force Blume – set up to investigate the ongoing supply of illicit drugs in the Wollongong and Lake Illawarra areas.

A 46-year-old man was arrested at the first address, three men aged 45, 57 and 67 were taken into custody at the second address, while a 34-year-old man was arrested at the third.

All five men were taken to Wollongong Police Station and charged with more than 160 offences, including drug supply and possession, ongoing drug supply, knowingly directing activities of a criminal group, knowingly participating in a criminal group and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Police allege the offences relate to the supply and possession of heroin and crystal methamphetamine.

All five men were refused bail to appear at Wollongong Local Court on Friday.

The raids were the culmination of nine months of investigations, Wollongong crime manager Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth said, and further arrests haven’t been ruled out. 

Detective Inspector Ainsworth said police allege the men were the “main players” in an “organised criminal syndicate”.

The operation was led by Wollongong police, with assistance from Lake Illawarra police, the Australian Border Force and the NSW Crime Commission.

Vision released by NSW Police shows detectives carrying numerous bags of evidence from an apartment complex in Warrawong.

Detective Inspector Ainsworth said the evidence seized during the five search warrants included drugs and money.

A police dog, wearing an Australian Border Force uniform that included shoes, was used during the raids.

“Some property within the premises [searched] today [Thursday] is going to be the subject of a Crime Commission review and possible seizure,” he said. 

It is understood a boat, parked outside a home on Hixson Street at Port Kembla, forms part of the commission’s investigation.