Pubdate: Mon, 20 Dec 1999
Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)
Author: Jeremy Pudney


POLICE have snared 800 offenders, an arsenal of weapons and more than
$1 million in drugs, cash and stolen goods during a year-long
anti-heroin offensive.

And following the success of the operation, it will now target
designer drugs.

Police Commissioner Mal Hyde warned yesterday the community should not
accept illicit drugs as a "part of life" but adopt an "enough is
enough" stance.

In an exclusive interview with The Advertiser Mr Hyde revealed figures
which show the anti-drug dealing operation he formed just over a year
ago Operation Mantle  had been a stunning success.

However, the commissioner said drug dealing remained widespread across
Adelaide and the drug problem would not be cured "overnight".

"The message is that the use of illicit drugs in our community is a
very serious problem and there aren't simple solutions," Mr Hyde said.

"I think it's well known that street-level dealing is readily apparent
in South Australia, particularly in Adelaide.

"The first thing we need to do is to be concerned enough to say we
don't want it to continue. It doesn't have to be like this if the
community just turns away and accepts it as part of life then it will
continue the first thing we have to do is say enough is enough."

Operation Mantle formed by Mr Hyde in October, 1998, to combat
street-level heroin dealers  will be extended until at least the
middle of next year.

It will also target the trade in amphetamines and other designer drugs
such as Ecstasy.

"The operation indicated that poly (mixed) drug use is alive and well
because, even though we focused on heroin, the figures clearly show
there is quite a lot of mixing up of the different illicit drugs," Mr
Hyde said.

"People don't confine themselves to one kind of drug."

Mr Hyde revealed Operation Mantle officers arrested or reported 799
drug dealers or users in just over a year.

More than 200 were for heroin offences and more than 150 for
amphetamines. Another 330 non-drug charges also were laid. Mantle
officers also:

SEIZED more than 320g of heroin the equivalent of almost 10,000 "hits"
and worth just under $500,000.

IMPOUNDED many dangerous weapons, including 32 firearms, 28 knives and
machetes, three crossbows and two stun-guns.

RECOVERED stolen property valued at $450,000.

CONFISCATED more than $250,000 in cash believed to be the profits of

ISSUED 1277 drug users with written or verbal advice on how to get
help or treatment for their drug habits. A further 74 were referred to
the Drug Aid and Assessment panel.

Mr Hyde said Operation Mantle had established the link between the
drug trade and other crimes, including violent crimes such as armed
robberies. It also had allowed police to collect intelligence on known

"We are quite confident that it (Mantle) has contributed in a
significant way to altering that trend of an increase in crime," he

Under Operation Mantle's second phase which will run at least until
the middle of next year teams of about six police will work in police
Local Service Areas across Adelaide.

The operation will focus on known "hot spots". It will be co-ordinated
by the Drug and Organised Crime Investigation Branch.

Detective Chief Superintendent Denis Edmonds, of police Crime Support
Services, said Mantle's goal was to "disrupt" the drug marketplace and
reduce related crime.

A range of tactics, including covert police operations, would be used
and other organisations, such as local councils, may be enlisted to
support the anti-drugs push.

"We will look at environments where drug dealers operate," Chief
Superintendent Edmonds said. Those areas would be changed so they were
"no longer safe for drug dealers". 
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