Wollongong police say they have seized $250,000 worth of drugs, a large quantity of cash and weapons in seven simultaneous raids across the Illawarra on Friday, shutting down a large crime syndicate.
Police executed search warrants at seven properties, including the alleged headquarters in Coniston, and allegedly seized cocaine, MDMA, ice, cannabis and ecstasy, and arrested five people.
Wollongong Police District commander Superintendent Chris Craner said police had disrupted a crime syndicate that supplied drugs to Illawarra users.
"We have seized, through this operation, about a quarter of a million dollars worth of drugs," Supt Craner said.
"This has been a short operation and these people have been [operating] for a while.
"We have watched them closely recently and we enacted this morning because we thought it was the best time.
"Fifty or 60 police we went in hard.
"We kicked in doors and grabbed these people because that is what the community wants us to do."
Wollongong police officers, tactical teams and the riot squad rammed down the doors of seven homes in Coniston, Woonona, Unanderra, Dapto and Oak Flats about 6.30am.
The Wonson Avenue address in Coniston is allegedly the headquarters of the operation.
Police also seized cash and weapons including a replica firearm, extendable baton, knuckle dusters and nunchucks.
Two 20-year-old men and a 19-year-old woman were arrested at the Coniston address.
A further two men were arrested at homes at Woonona.
Supt Craner said the total haul was not yet known.
There were about 300 ecstasy tablets located in one house, 260 grams of cocaine in another as well as steroids found, he said.
The cash seized will hopefully be forfeited to the Crown and "would not go into the pockets of organised crime".
"Three of the offenders arrested are brothers," Supt Craner said. "We will allege one has organised this crime syndicate and has recruited trusted people."
Christina Kocalevski, who lives next door and owns the Coniston rental property that was raided, said she heard a loud bang at 6.30am and went onto her balcony to see that police cars had swarmed the street.
"I was just thinking, 'what has been happening'," she said.
"We have never had any problems with them. They were really nice neighbours. They said hello, chatted and waved.
"There was never any indication that anything like this would happen."
Ms Kocalevski said there were always people who came and went from the house but she just thought they were family and friends not anything suspicious.
The public were also reminded to stay vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour because the information often helped police piece together crimes.
The drugs raids were part of Strike Force Yuppara, which was set up to investigate the large-scale supply of cocaine and MDMA in the Illawarra region.
Strike Force Yuppara's arrests were linked to an investigation into Illawarra criminal networks by the Criminal Groups Squad's Strike Force Raptor South.
Strike Force Raptor South's investigation executed three further search warrants at Bellambi, Mangerton, and Mount Kiera this morning.
During the searches, two jet skis, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a ute, $40,000 cash, MDMA, and cocaine were seized.
Two men - aged 26 and 30 - were arrested during the operation and taken to Lake Illawarra Police Station.
"People will say we are a small coastal town south of Sydney but small coastal towns cop big drugs," Supt Craner said.
"They will say we are a small coastal police station at the bottom of Sydney, but we had the full force of the NSW Police Force behind us.
"We have had good police work that has gone into this. [Drug suppliers] travel across borders and we go with them. We have managed to lock them up across two districts."
The cop boss said police knew other drug syndicates would start or move into the Illawarra but warned the raids would be replicated.
Supt Craner said the drug raids targeted the suppliers "who do not give a damn" about the users.
"To those users who want to take drugs, today is your opportunity," he said. "Do you find another dealer who we will go after or do you stop taking drugs?"
"These people don't care about you. Go find someone who does. Go talk to a doctor or your family and try and get yourself off this horrific substance."
The five people arrested are expected to be charged with a range of offences including commercial drug supply, participating in an organised crime group and proceeds of crime for the cash and weapons recovered.