Police discover haul of ‘sly grog’ being smuggled into dry town in the Kimberley, Western Australia


Cops discover massive haul of ‘sly grog’ including 22 cartons of Emu Export, 17 bottles of Bundy and three cruisers being smuggled into a dry town – and reveal what they will do with it

  • WA Police seized countless bottles of liquor and 22 cases of beer from vehicle
  • Officers searched the car during a routine traffic stop in the Kimberley region
  • In 2020, laws came into effect that restricted amount of alcohol allowed in cars
  • Crackdown came after sly groggers sold alcohol in ‘dry’ Aboriginal communities 

Police have discovered an enormous stash of ‘sly grog’ worth thousands of dollars during a routine traffic stop.

Officers seized countless bottles of Midori, Vodka O, Bundaberg, and Jim Beam, more than 600 cans of Emu Export beer and several cans of alcoholic ginger beer. 

The driver of a Toyota Tarago was pulled over about 5km outside of Fitzroy Crossing on the Great Northern Highway in Western Australia just after 7pm on Friday.

The 39-year-old woman passed a random breath test but officers stumbled across the sizeable stash during a search of the vehicle.

A photo shows the sizeable stash seized by police after they stopped a 39-year-old woman during a routine traffic stop just outside of Fitzroy Crossing on Friday night

A photo shows the sizeable stash seized by police after they stopped a 39-year-old woman during a routine traffic stop just outside of Fitzroy Crossing on Friday night

The driver of a Toyota Tarago was pulled over about 5km from Fitzroy Crossing on the Great Northern Highway just after 7pm last Friday night (pictured, the Kimberley region)

The driver of a Toyota Tarago was pulled over about 5km from Fitzroy Crossing on the Great Northern Highway just after 7pm last Friday night (pictured, the Kimberley region)

SIZABLE STASH SEIZED

Officers found and seized: 

22 cartons of Emu Export, 

17 x 1L bottles of Bundaberg Rum, 

8 x 1L bottles of Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey, 

1 x 1L bottle of Vodka O, 

8 x cans (330ml) of James Squire Ginger Beer, 

3 x 275ml bottles of Midori Illusion 

3 x 1.25L bottles of Fat Lamb.

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The alcohol was seized by police under the Liquor Control Act and liquor control regulations (sly grogging). 

In 2020, the state government imposed limits on the amount of alcohol allowed in cars to prevent bootleggers selling it to ‘dry’ Aboriginal communities. 

The law, which covers the 42,000sqm of the Kimberley region, allows police to charge anyone with suspicious quantities of liquor in their cars. 

The woman was charged with ‘carried, in a prescribed area of the state, a kind of liquor in a quantity that exceeded the prescribed quantity’.

She is due to appear before the Fitzroy Crossing Magistrates Court on June 21.  

Operation Regional Shield is a taskforce dedicated to combatting crime in the Kimberley, the northern-most part of WA. 

Assistant WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the crackdown would continue due to the impact alcohol can have on families, especially those who had experienced domestic violence.

He told 6PR radio officers would remain on the lookout for people taking large quantities of alcohol into areas that don’t sell takeaway grog. 

‘Get a load of this, out of the car were 22 cartons of Emu Export, 17 one-litre bottles of Bundaberg Rum, eight one-litre bottles of Jim Beam… it went on and on and on,’ he said.

‘The photo with the two very proud smiling police officers was very, very impressive because we’re pretty strong on that sly grogging… because we know the harm and damage that liquor can cause, particularly around family domestic violence and family dysfunction.’

WA Police also moved to restrict the sale of alcohol in March 2020, limiting shoppers to only one carton of beer and three bottles of wine a day (pictured, a Liquorland in Melbourne)

WA Police also moved to restrict the sale of alcohol in March 2020, limiting shoppers to only one carton of beer and three bottles of wine a day (pictured, a Liquorland in Melbourne)

WHAT IS SLY GROGGING?

‘Sly grogging’ is the practice of transporting large quantities of liquor to remote areas of Western Australia. 

The alcohol is often taken to areas where liquor restrictions are in place, or in ‘dry communities’. 

The alcohol is usually illegally sold vulnerable members of the community.

Source: WA Police 

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The assistant commissioner was asked if police believed the 39-year-old woman had intended to re-sell the alcohol in regional communities to make a profit. 

‘That’s exactly what we suspect in this matter, obviously now it’s before the courts and she’s been charged. But that is not an unusual event,’ he said. 

‘They go to areas where they can purchase that alcohol and then go to areas where you can’t buy those large quantities and then sell them to the community at a far more inflated price, which just contributes to the damage.’

Commissioner Blanch said the crackdown was an effort to protect the community from the effects of serious offences that came as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. 

He also broke the hearts of drinkers everywhere by confirming the booze would go to waste and not be used for a police staff party.

‘That rumour is always out there, that cops would use that alcohol, but it does go down the drain,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately, we do destroy it.’ 

It also followed ongoing issues around illegal sales which resulted in cartons of beer being sold for up to $200 in areas like Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek. 

The towns are home to more than 200 remote communities which have been alcohol free for the past decade, under the directive of indigenous leaders. 

In 2020, the state government imposed limits on the amount of alcohol allowed in cars to prevent bootleggers selling it to 'dry' Aboriginal communities

In 2020, the state government imposed limits on the amount of alcohol allowed in cars to prevent bootleggers selling it to ‘dry’ Aboriginal communities

However, sly groggers continue to slip past authorities and sneak alcohol into one of the dry communities. 

WA Police also moved to restrict the sale of alcohol in March 2020, limiting shoppers to only one carton of beer and three bottles of wine a day. 

Across the entire Kimberley region, takeaway liquor with an alcohol content of six per cent or more can’t be sold in containers of more than one litre. 

Beer can’t be sold in bottles of 400ml or more.

The penalty for bringing or possessing liquor in the restricted area is a $2,000 fine. 

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