Byron club drug bust
By RACHEL SCOLLAY
TWENTY-five police descended upon the C-Moog nightclub in Byron Bay in the early hours of Saturday morning in a drug bust which yielded a 'large' amount of suspected MDMA and resulted in four arrests.
MDMA is the main ingredient of the party drug ecstasy. The nightclub has been closed for 72 hours following the raid, which came after months of intelligence-gathering involving undercover operatives from Sydney.
Inspector Owen King, of Byron Bay police, said to issue a closure order on the club under the Liquor Act, he had to prove 'certain criteria'.
These included: "That persons employed by the premises, or having an interest in it, are using those premises for the purposes of supplying a prohibited drug," he said.
"And the magistrate (who issued the closure order) was satisfied with the information I gave her."
A 30-year-old Brunswick Heads man was arrested and charged with various drug supply offences.
He was denied bail on Saturday and is due to appear in the Lismore Local Court today.
Insp King said that after intelligence indicated drug activity was occurring at the nightclub, which he declined to name yesterday, operation Barwick was set up in May to gather evidence.
At 1am on Saturday, police secured the nightclub and the 150 patrons were made to leave and walk past a drug sniffer dog at the entranceway.
"The staff remained," he said.
"And once everybody had left, we systematically completed our search warrant, which involved the dog
As a result, a 'large quantity' of what police believe to be MDMA, the main ecstasy ingredient, was found.
Insp King said they found both tablets and powder. Small amounts of cannabis were also found.
Insp King said about 20 patrons were searched as they left the premises after the sniffer dog signalled it had smelt something on them.
However, only three men were found to be in possession of a 'small quantity' of various drugs.
Insp King said the men were issued court attendance notices for drug-related matters and will appear in Byron Bay Local Court on August 19.
However, they were not the main target of the operation, he said.
"The sniffer dogs are extremely sensitive," he said.
"If you have smoked a joint in the last four of five hours, or if you've had something in your pocket that day, the dog will pick it up.
"There were several people in that position, who admitted they had had possession or use of drugs in the last 24 hours, but at the time they were searched they weren't committing an offence.
"So their names were taken and they were released."
Insp King said it was 'just coincidental' that the bust occurred at the same time as Splendour in the Grass was taking place at Bay Bay.