A DE FACTO couple allegedly used a hydroponic shop on the Gold Coast as a cover for a $9 million cannabis syndicate.
The 54-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman were among 38 people charged with 278 offences after police executed 26 search warrants over three days.
Gold Coast CIB Detective Inspector Tim Trezise said on Monday that police had seized 158kg of cannabis, more than 500 ecstasy tablets, 40g of amphetamines and smaller quantities of cocaine and heroin during Operation Juliet Stilton.
He alleged the drug syndicate was bringing hydroponically-produced cannabis - with a street value between $3000 and $3500 - into the Gold Coast from Victoria.
Mr Trezise said the hydroponic shop - a legitimate business for gardeners and other business people to buy goods - was a perfect cover.
"There was a de facto couple who were the kingpins in relation to this particular syndicate," he said.
"We've discovered over the past six months this syndicate has been bringing drugs from interstate on a fairly regular basis.
"At least once every 14 days they bring in as much as 100 pounds over the border into the Gold Coast area and they distribute to various contacts they have within their drug network."
Mr Trezise said police had already sized a number of cars allegedly involved in trafficking drugs, including a red Ferrari, and had begun inquiries to seize other items that may have been accrued through drug selling.
He said three guns, two tasers and $481,000 cash had been seized in the searches, the cash from the principal offenders' Ellanora shop.
Mr Trezise said he expected there would be a flow-on effect, reducing property crimes and armed robberies, as a result of the arrests.
"This is the third major operation we've shut down in three weeks targeting trafficking on the coast," he said.
"It's certainly going to disrupt cannabis trade on the Coast because there was significant drugs coming into Coast and being distributed.
Mr Trezise said the operation began on Friday and included intercepting a vehicle crossing the border into Queensland with more than 100 pounds of cannabis.
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