Men caught watering drug crop

TWO Coffs Harbour men, caught growing one of the largest cannabis plantations seized on the Mid North Coast, were caught red-handed watering their drug crop.

Adam Beveridge, 39, of Korora and Dennis Gordon-Smith, 62, of Coffs Harbour, have both pleaded guilty to cultivating more than 3373 cannabis plants in rugged terrain in the Chaelundi National Park north-west of Dorrigo.

The massive five-tonne cannabis haul, valued at $18 million, was uncovered by a covert police operation in January.

The pair constructed a sophisticated watering system of poly pipes and hoses, surrounding the clearing in rugged bushland with chicken wire fencing.

From a campsite nearby they also tended to another smaller crop which had also been growing since September.

Officers from the State Crime Command’s Drug Squad, along with Coffs/Clarence and New England police, staked out the crop for weeks in a covert strike force code named Morison.

On January 13, the day of their arrest, Beveridge and Gordon-Smith were working on the plants.

At 9.50am Beveridge was seen carrying a red jerry can on a fire trail. He started up a generator powering the watering system and met with Gordon-Smith.

What they didn’t know was that police were listening in.

“Growing aren’t they,” Beveridge was recorded as saying. “ They are taking off, look at that ... we got some growth here,” Gordon-Smith responded. “There’d be 1300 of them in the ground, there’s bloody 3000 plants.”

Obtaining a search warrant, police pounced.

Gordon-Smith was arrested watering the plants with a hose while Beveridge fled and was eventually caught at the nearby campsite.

Police later raided Gordon-Smith’s home finding 2.44 kilograms of cannabis under a bed in plastic bags and containers.

Since their arrest, both men have been refused bail awaiting sentence.

Beveridge’s case will come before the court again on June 7, while Gordon-Smith will have his matter mentioned on July 26.

At the time of the seizure, police said the drug bust would have had a major impact on local cannabis supply.

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