Operation Purge nets more than 110 inmates

Wellington Correctional Centre.
Wellington Correctional Centre.

Tobacco and suboxone strips were uncovered at the Wellington Correctional Centre in the state’s largest contraband sweep of the NSW prison system during August. 

More than 60 grams of tobacco and 23 suboxone strips were seized at the maximum security facility during Operation Purge, adding to the state-wide total of 11 mobile phones, steroids, crystal meth, more than 600 grams of tobacco, 30 syringes and needles and 44 prison-made weapons.

Minister for Corrections David Elliott praised correctional officers who took part in the operation, which involved targeted searches at each of the state’s 36 prisons across an 11-week period.

“More than 1300 custodial officers and 90 Security Operations Group officers have done a fantastic job executing these intelligence-based raids, in conjunction with each facility’s regular contraband searches,” he said.

“The unprecedented operation has produced great results, with searches of 8377 inmates, 5079 cells, and 576 common areas. A total of 105 inmates are now facing charges of possessing contraband.”

Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) Commissioner Peter Severin said the prison system was now safer, but officers remained vigilant.

“Contraband is an issue for correctional centres across the globe, but I am confident that by using the skills of custodial officers combined with local intelligence and modern technology we can continue to disrupt this criminal activity,” he said.

CSNSW Assistant Commissioner Mark Wilson PSM directed the operation from a command centre in Silverwater and said inmates in possession of contraband would continue to be caught and punished appropriately.

“These inmates now face prosecution and other punishments such as segregation, withdrawal of privileges and no contact visits for up to 56 days,” Mr Wilson PSM said.

Operation Purge seized items including:

  • 11 mobile phones;
  • 647.7g of tobacco;
  • 44 prison-made weapons;
  • 60 steroid tablets;
  • 5.3g of green vegetable matter;
  • 3.4g of crystal meth;
  • 21 buprenorphine strips;
  • 10 litres of prison-made brew;
  • 30 syringes/needles;
  • Eight phone chargers; and
  • Six USB sticks.