18 March, 2016. 16:34
ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
POLICE IN NARCOTICS HOTSPOTS will be keeping an eye on people using ATMs this weekend, looking for people withdrawing $300 – the average cost of a decent bag of cocaine.
The leafy Sydney suburbs of Bondi, Double Bay and Lakemba will be under the microscope, while New Farm, Hawthorne and Banyo have police on the lookout in the River City.
According to the Queensland Police Narcotics Task Force, it’s a measure that’s more about deterring drug use, rather than punishing it.
“We came under pressure for not checking for coke with random roadside drug tests, but we’re on it now,” said Detective Dennis Borbidge.
“Stamping out cocaine use among the city’s wealthiest has always been a top priority for us. Ever since the bikies stopped turning a profit on it, it’s been open season.”
In the blue-water harbour town of Sydney, police have been notoriously hard on the roots of the cocaine tree, rather than the leaves. That’s about to change, say NSW Police.
“There will be undercover detectives around ATMs that are known to have a higher than average amount of $300 withdrawals,” said Assistance Narco Force leader Miles Froglicker.
“No mercy will be shown to anybody caught withdrawing exactly $300. We will be having a chat if we see you doing it. I can guarantee that.”
Cocaine use exploded in Australia in 2009, when executives and creatives found themselves surfing the giant commodities wave that left a high-water mark which has yet to be beaten.
It was a wave that Brisbane architect Martyn Harris rode on a longboard, ducking and weaving his way through the green room that is Gold Coast snow.
“Take a look at the Brisbane skyline,” said Harris. “Everything you see was designed by somebody on cocaine.”
As a successful middle-aged professional Martyn says that he plans on taking “two grand cash” out of the bank this afternoon, so he doesn’t have to make the midnight dash to the convenience store ATM.
“Honestly, nobody is getting hurt by a few happy-go-lucky architects doing a little bit of marching powder on a Saturday night,” he said.
“Honestly, nobody is getting hurt by a few happy-go-lucky architects doing a little bit of marching powder on a Saturday night. Except maybe a few Mexicans, but I can live with that.”
On the other side of the party boy coin, one Sydneysider says he and his mates are in the clear.
A collective of 25-year-old actors, musicians and writers like to gather when the weather is nice. A few beers in the cool breeze often leads to the discussion about possibly adding some cocaine into the matinee session.
Full-time bartender and part-time actor Mitchell Yogert says the police can kiss is arse because he doesn’t even have $300 in his bank account.
“We have a showing of hands. People sometimes split a bag, others go three ways. Then we pile the cash together, there’s always, at least, four pink ladies ($5 notes) so we’re basically untraceable,”
“When we go to the ATM, it’s always $20 here, $50 there. There’s no clear pattern,”
“I haven’t withdrawn $300 from an ATM since the Rudd-Swan stimulus package. My drug dealer got a new plasma out of me that weekend.”