Two men have been arrested today following a joint interagency operation at Byron Bay after police uncovered the first ever clandestine laboratory manufacturing safrole oil, used in the production of MDMA.

Strike Force Barsden comprises investigators from the State Crime Command’s Drug Squad, Tweed/Byron Local Area Command and Queensland Police.

The Strike Force was established in June 2009 to investigate the supply of cocaine, as well as the manufacture of safrole oil, which can be used as a precursor in the production of MDMA.

Two men have been arrested by police today including a 23-year-old man at Bangalow and a 24-year-old man at Mullumbimby. Both men were taken to Byron Bay Police Station.

The 24-year-old was charged with possess tablet press, conspiracy to manufacture prohibited drug, and two counts of possess prohibited drug. He was refused bail to appear at Byron Bay Local Court on 29 January, 2010.

The 23-year-old man was charged with three counts of possess prohibited drug, possess pill press, and cultivate prohibited plant. He was granted conditional bail to appear in court at a later date.

Six search warrants were executed by police at locations including two premises on Bangalow Road at Byron Bay, Hakea Court at Mullumbimby, Pacific Highway at Bangalow, Byrrell Creek Road at Byrrell Creek, and Centennial Court at Byron Bay.

A clandestine laboratory was discovered by police at Bangalow. Investigations are ongoing and police remain at the scene (late on Thursday afternoon). Evidence of manufacture was also uncovered at Byrrell Creek.

During the search warrants police located and seized a total of two pill presses, ecstasy tablets, LSD, cannabis, cocaine, steroids, precursors used in the manufacture of MDMA, as well as $4000 cash.

Drug Squad Commander, Superintendent Nick Bingham, continues to warn the public about the dangers of illicit drug use.

“Drug use is dangerous. It is very difficult to know what you are consuming, and the effects can be fatal,” Det/Supt Nick Bingham said.