22 March 2024

Major Batemans Bay police operation nets 34 arrests, drugs, cash and weapons

| Albert McKnight
Operation Surge saw 34 people arrested when 60 officers arrived in Batemans Bay.

Operation Surge saw 34 people arrested when 60 officers arrived in Batemans Bay. Photo: NSW Police.

Officers involved in a major police operation in Batemans Bay led by the state’s bikie-busting Raptor Squad have charged 34 people and allegedly seized almost $250,000 worth of drugs.

Operation Surge’s activities attracted a large amount of public interest when police were spotted converging in Batemans Bay earlier this week, as did the discovery of a person’s body in bushland near the town.

Sixty officers had arrived from across the state in a multifaceted operation with the aim of targeting, disrupting and preventing localised crime in the region.

NSW Police said between Monday and Thursday (18-21 March), Operation Surge charged 34 people, seized eight firearms and executed 17 firearm prohibition order compliance checks.

Officers also completed more than 360 random breath and drug tests, issued 64 infringement notices, seized $14,240 cash and $246,547 worth of drugs.

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Among the arrests, at about 7 am on Tuesday, police raided a home in Surf Beach where they allegedly found cannabis and $10,000 cash and arrested a 60-year-old woman and 36-year-old man.

The woman was charged with four counts of supply a small quantity of a prohibited drug, while the man was charged with supply a commercial quantity of cannabis and recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Both were refused bail and appeared before Batemans Bay Local Court the same day.

Also, about 6:30 am on Tuesday, police raided another home in Surf Beach where they arrested a 34-year-old man and charged him with seven counts of supply a small quantity of a prohibited drug as well as supplying prohibited drugs on an ongoing basis.

He was refused bail and appeared in Batemans Bay Local Court on Wednesday.

On Friday (22 March), Detective Superintendent Tim Beattie said the operation had been a culmination of many months of work and there were more operations like this that would be conducted across the entire southern region, describing them as “a bit of a game-changer for regional policing”.

He said the message to anyone contemplating criminal activities was “there’s nowhere to hide in regional NSW and it’s only a matter of time before we come knocking on your door”.

South Coast Police District Commander Superintendent Darren Brand said he was proud of the results police had achieved this week.

“It’s a great example for our communities of the resources of NSW Police coming into regional NSW to help keep them safe,” he said.

The Raptor Squad’s Detective Superintendent Andrew Koutsoufis said there were issues with drug use in Batemans Bay that his squad needed to target, but he had a number of Surge operations planned for the rest of the year in NSW.

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Meanwhile, a passerby found a person’s body in bushland at George Bass Drive in Lilli Pilli, which is about 10 km southeast of the Bay, around 10:30 am on Wednesday (20 March).

Superintendent Brand described it as “a really tragic incident” that was unrelated to Operation Surge, although it was still under investigation.

He said the body still had not been identified and he expected a brief would be prepared for the coroner.

The superintendent also said he could not comment any further when asked about the unconfirmed reports that the body had been burned.

Strike Force Raptor, which went on to become the Raptor Squad, targets groups and individuals who commit serious and organised crime, particularly those with a propensity for violence.

Part of its work involves focusing on disrupting outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs).

Early last year, NSW Police announced Raptor South would have a permanent base in the Illawarra.

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