Coast boats targeted in raids

Police have raided boats at sea as part of a major multi-agency operation on the Sunshine Coast.
Police have raided boats at sea as part of a major multi-agency operation on the Sunshine Coast.
MORE than 70 boats have been raided on the Sunshine Coast as part of a three-day operation targeting drugs and illegal activity.

Ten people have been charged with 11 offences during the operation which involved Queensland Police, Australian Customs, Border Protection, Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

Operation Hotel Abloom follows ongoing concerns that Mooloolaba Harbour, which does not have a Customs port, could provide easier access for people trying to bring in drugs to the Sunshine Coast.

The operation targeted criminal activity including; firearms and other prohibited items, fishery and related offences, and being in charge of vessels whilst under the influence of drugs, drug haulage among fishing fleets, and drug use by crew members.

Multi-agency boarding teams consisting of members of the QPS and Customs and Border Protection boarded and searched a total of 72 fishing and recreational vessels during the three day operation resulting in ten people charged with 10 drug offences and one firearm offence and the issuing of 21 Marine Infringement Notices.

Phase one of the operation was conducted at Mooloolaba Harbour on Friday where seven moored fishing vessels were boarded.

As a result Queensland Police charged three men with possession of a drug utensil and one man with possession of a dangerous drug (cannabis).

 The men, two Buddina men aged 22 and 27, a 29-year-old from Mooloolaba and a 17-year-old from Maroochydore are due to appear in court at a later date.

Police also issued three Maritime Infringement Notices for fail to have proper safety equipment, fail to have prescribed documents and fail to display registration.

Operations conducted on Saturday and Sunday covered a sea zone stretching from Sandy Cape to Cape Moreton and out to the 200 nautical mile limit.

65 vessels were intercepted and inspected resulting in six people being charged with six drug offences and one firearm offence.

Approximately 70 personnel, including QPS and Customs and Border Protection drug and explosive detection dog teams took part in the operation.

Acting Regional Crime Coorinator, Acting Detective Superintendent Dave Drinnen said it was a well coordinated and successful multi-agency operation.

"The coordination and deployment of a large number of resources, including personnel, land and sea assets, by a number of agencies, require very detailed planning and cooperation.

“This operation ran very smoothly and all involved in the planning and execution should be commended for their efforts,” he said.

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