A pre-Schoolies police operation to thwart Gold Coast drug makers and suppliers ahead of the annual pilgrimage to Surfers Paradise has resulted in dozens of arrests.
Detectives have arrested and charged 40 people with 109 drugs, weapons and property offences during a “week of action”.
Gold Coast Superintendent Mark White says the raids are ongoing and during Schoolies officers will use a range of “overt and covert” strategies to prevent drug dealing, particularly in the Schoolies precinct.
“Schoolies kicks off pretty much today. Part of our role is to create a safe environment for young people who are coming to celebrate the end of 13 years of schooling,” he told reporters on Friday.
“If people think they come into this event and gain some advantage or push drugs onto young people they are going to be in for a rude shock.”
Fantasy, crystal methamphetamine (ice) and cannabis has been seized so far.
The police operation comes as thousands of school leavers from across Australia trek to the Glitter Strip for the week-long celebration.
The partying officially starts on Saturday with students urged to look after their mates and stay safe.
Gold Coast Schoolies Advisory Group chairman Mark Reaburn says his team of 11,000 volunteers is ready to make sure the kids have a great time safely but they’re not running a festival.
“It’s not a party, what we co-ordinate is a response to about 22,000 kids, 80 per cent of whom will be 17-years-old, congregating in Surfers Paradise in what is known as a right of passage,” he told reporters.
“We are here because of an enormous number of kids finishing school and coming to Schoolies and we’re here to provide a safety response for the kids.”
Students regularly go beyond what they can cope with both emotionally and physically, he said.
“A lot of kids being away from mum and dad for the first time in their lives, with each other, essentially moving out into the big wide world,” he said.
Mr Reaburn said although he wanted schoolies to have a good time some were going to push the limits.
In 2017, 66 schoolies were arrested by police but historically more “toolies and droolies” are nabbed than students.
Mr Reaburn said calls to block students at the airport or ban schoolies was like trying to hold back the tide.