Accused drug sellers linked to injecting room
Two people nabbed for alleged drug trafficking in Melbourne reportedly work for a facility linked to the controversial North Richmond safe injecting room.
Victoria Police arrested eight people yesterday as part of a three-month investigation into drug trafficking in the city's inner east and its harm to the community.
Properties in Burnside Heights and Richmond were raided and officers seized drugs and cash.
A man, 49, was charged with trafficking a drug of dependence and bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on October 29.
A woman, 36, is also expected to be charged on summons with the same offence.
"The 49-year-old Richmond man and 36-year-old Brunswick West woman work at a health facility in North Richmond," police said in a statement.
The Herald Sun reported they were community outreach workers who provide advice on harm reduction to local drug users at North Richmond Community Health.
The facility runs the controversial medically supervised injecting room.
Victoria Police would not confirm specifics of the pair's employment to news.com.au.
Two other men, aged 35 and 51, and two women, aged 42 and 43, were also charged with drug offences and released on bail.
Acting Superintendent Kelvin Gale said police were committed to bringing drug traffickers before the court due to the "significant harm" they cause.
"While we recognise those who use illicit drugs have a health problem, we also know that drugs are a big contributor to crime in Victoria," he said.
"That's why we run operations focused on street-level drug dealing and possession as well as drug trafficking in the area, focusing our attention on those who prey on the vulnerable."
He said he hoped the eight arrests would impact the level of drug trafficking in the area.
The injecting room was opened in mid-2018 to help addicts and save lives.
"We now provide a safe and hygienic place where people can inject drugs, in a supervised health setting," the facility says on its website.
"If a person overdoses in the room, our trained staff can respond immediately."
In April this year, the government announced the facility's opening hours would be extended - 7am to 9pm on weekdays and 8am to 7pm on weekends.
"Opening the medically supervised injecting room for longer will mean people who need it have a place to go," Mental Health Minister Martin Foley said at the time.
Those who live in the area think otherwise, and responded to the arrests.
"I've seen a lot of stuff, as being a local of 20 years," resident Christine Maynard told reporters yesterday.
"But I'm just disgusted to see that this is happening."