Police have arrested 21 people and seized commercial quantities of illicit substances as well as illegal firearms and stolen vehicles following a yearlong operation led by detectives from the East Gippsland Crime Investigation Unit, targeting an alleged drug trafficking network operating across Victoria and NSW.

The first arrests were made on October 24, when detectives and specialist units, including the Critical Incident Response Team, executed more than 20 warrants throughout Victoria, including Melbourne, Bairnsdale, Mallacoota, Sale, Swan Reach and Warrnambool. Bega Criminal Investigation Branch (NSW Police) also provided support, conducting a search warrant in Eden, NSW.

The warrants led police to seize trafficable quantities of methylamphetamine, GHB and cannabis, trafficable quantities of illicit firearms and imitation firearms, a taser and pepper spray, cash and false identity documents. Police also located a hydroponic cannabis set-up along with stolen items, including cars, jet skis, trailers and power tools.

Detective Senior Sergeant Andrew Mehlert, from East Gippsland Crime Investigation Unit, said the major sweep of raids has caused a major dent in the illicit drug trade across Gippsland.

“We have seized a significant quantity of illicit substances over the past few weeks, including methylamphetamine,” Detective Senior Sergeant Mehlert said.

“This has caused a major dent to the illicit drug trade across Gippsland, and we would like to thank the community for their assistance throughout the investigation.

“Victoria Police will remain resolute in our commitment to come down hard on those trafficking drugs.

“For those involved in trafficking commercial quantities of drugs, a maximum sentence of 25 years behind bars is a stark reminder of the risk you run.”