A drug-laden plane has been seized and 15 people arrested in a large cross-border operation targeting bikie-linked criminals.
The pilot of the plane, which carried 45kg of South Australian-grown cannabis and other drugs, was arrested when it landed in the NSW town of Deniliquin, close to the Victorian border on Wednesday afternoon.
Ten properties in Adelaide were later searched netting a further 18kg of cannabis, 700 ecstasy pills, cash, counterfeit money and two firearms.
Ten people were arrested in Adelaide along with another four in NSW as police in SA, NSW and Queensland collaborated to “dismantle” a major drug trafficking ring.
The pungent smell of cannabis filled the air as Detective Superintendent Graham Goodwin addressed the media in Adelaide on Thursday alongside bulging bags of drugs and a silenced rifle.
“The operation over three states indicates the depths and sophistication these organised crime groups go to,” he told reporters.
“The success of the operation also sends a clear message to criminals that borders are irrelevant to law enforcement agencies.”
The use of a light plane to transport the drugs did not surprise Supt Goodwin, who said the sophistication of organised criminals knew no bounds.
“They will modify and adapt their behaviour to suit their best ways of getting things around,” he said.
He said further arrests could not be ruled out.
Police allege affiliates of the Descendants and Hells Angels bikie gangs in SA had been smuggling drugs and firearms into NSW, and the plane was part of that operation.
As well as the raids in Adelaide, search warrants were executed in Hay, on the Gold Coast and a in Brisbane in what police said was the culmination of six months’ work.
The 67-year-old pilot, from Queensland, has been charged with supplying commercial quantities of drugs and is to face Deniliquin Local Court on Thursday.
Of those arrested on drugs charges in SA, six are being held in custody to appear in court on Thursday and four have been bailed to appear in court at a later date.
Four men arrested in NSW have been charged with ongoing gun supply.