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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Police frustration over drug charges

Police say a drug raid targeting people at a weekend music festival was a blip on the radar of a much larger problem.

JESSICA GRIMBLE November 28, 2012 5:00am

Police search a vehicle enroute to the Strawberry Fields festival near Tocumwal.


Police say a drug raid targeting people at a weekend music festival was a blip on the radar of a much larger problem.

Victorian and NSW police set up road blocks and searched cars travelling to the Strawberry Fields festival near Tocumwal.

Victoria police nabbed 37 offenders for 80 offences — including possession of drugs and possession of a commercial quantity of drugs — on Friday night.

They seized quantities of LSD, amphetamines, ice, magic mushrooms, ecstasy, cannabis and ketamine.

Cobram’s Highway Patrol caught nine drivers who allegedly tested positive to driving under the influence of drugs on Sunday.

Cobram police Senior Sergeant Garry Barton said people nabbed at a road block near Koonoomoo seemed unfazed that police caught them with drugs.

‘‘I find it absolutely disappointing to see that this is the mindset of the people who go to these festivals — to think that it’s okay to possess drugs,’’ Sen Sgt Barton said.

‘‘But this is just a blip — and it seems, to them, (getting caught by police) is just a part of going to the event.

‘‘It’s also disturbing these people were travelling back to their homes under the influence of drugs.’’

NSW police conducted 114 person searches, 78 vehicle searches and 337 random breath tests and issued 12 traffic infringement notices. A total of 55 people were allegedly found in possession of prohibited drugs resulting in 41 charges being laid, while a further 14 people would receive cannabis caution notices.

Police charged 21 people with drug supply offences while 10 people were charged after being found in possession of equipment to administer prohibited drugs.

One person was charged after allegedly being found in possession of ammunition, while another received a criminal infringement notice for offensive behaviour.

Crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Cloake of Deniliquin said there was a strong police presence during the festival.

‘‘What is alarming is that over 66 per cent of the vehicles searched by police during this operation contained prohibited drugs,’’ Det Insp Cloake said.

‘‘Whilst police see the benefits to the community in holding events of this nature, we ask that patrons attending festivals show some respect and responsibility to the host community. Bringing drugs into our community will not be tolerated.’’

Strawberry Fields director Tara Benney said about 4000 people travelled to Tocumwal for the festival, where music and arts was available to them across three days.

‘‘These people might be from the city, but we appreciate the country — and it’s a chance to spend a weekend in the bush, getting creative,’’ she said.

Ms Benney said notices on the festival’s website and Facebook page warning people about the police road blocks were posted for the patrons’ safety.

‘‘All major festivals will do that ... (and the police) are just doing their job.’’

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