Overdose deaths spark police blitz on Warwick rave
A POLICE blitz on a four-day, all-night dance music festival in bushland south of Warwick has resulted in a spate of drug charges.
Police were out in force as revellers arrived for the Dark Forest Festival, located at The Springs 4X4 Adventure Park on the New England Hwy.
The blitz came less than a fortnight after two people died from drug overdoses at Stereosonic events in Sydney and Adelaide.
Warwick police established road blocks on the highway to the north and south of the festival grounds, with more than 2780 drivers tested for alcohol and 93 for drugs.
Twenty-one motorists were charged for drug driving, which Warwick police Officer-in-Charge Senior Sergeant Jamie Deacon said was alarming.
"That is almost a one-in-four positive result rate which is highly alarming," Snr Sgt Deacon said.
"A quantity of drugs including marijuana and tablet-form (drugs) were seized during the operation."
Snr Sgt Deacon said the operation resulted in 52 drug-related charges, including the supply of dangerous drugs.
Snr Sgt Deacon said with the recent overdose deaths at other music festivals, police were concerned and ran the operation to reduce the risk.
"The concept of someone paying money to a person they don't know for a cheap high made with unknown chemicals in an unknown place just seems ludicrous to me," he said.
"The dangers of that should be obvious."
Organisers had expected up to 1200 people for the event, but only 320 attended.
Springs 4X4 Adventure Park owner Neil Taylor blamed the heavy police presence for the poor attendance.
"We tried to do the right thing, getting council approval and all the rest, and the emergency services were notified," he said.
"The police targeted the event and Facebook was running hot about the police presence."
Mr Taylor said despite the drug charges, the event was held "with absolutely no dramas at all".
He said he was disappointed by the negative impact the police blitz had on the festival.
"Most of those people would have stopped and spent money in town on food, fuel, that sort of thing," he said.
"We've lost about $18,000 on it. It's just sad really; it just sends them back underground again."
Operation North Fender
93 drug tests
21 drug-driving offences
53 traffic-related tickets issued
52 drug-related charges