Actor accused of being the mastermind of Operation Cocaine
Putu Winchester-Stanton, a former Australian actor, was among those arrested for their alleged roles in a cocaine ring in Byron Bay, a popular tourist area in New South Wales, Australia. The 44-year-old has been arrested in Mullumbimby and faces 10 drug charges, including supplying commercial quantities of illicit drugs and knowingly leading a criminal group, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Six other men were arrested following the police investigation into the cocaine supply in Byron Bay.
After opening an investigation in October 2020, police executed four search warrants on April 22, including one at a business in Byron Bay. The other three were in houses in Mullumbimby, Bangalow and Byron Bay. Police reportedly seized approximately 340 grams of cocaine and over 25,000 Australian dollars (approximately 19,500 US dollars).
Winchester-Stanton was the oldest of the men arrested. The other men arrested included three 30-year-old men; Bodene Robertson, 32; Clayton MacDonald, 44; and a 24 year old man. Robertson was charged with 16 offenses. MacDonald faces charges of supplying an indicted amount of a prohibited drug and participating in a criminal group. Robertson and MacDonald appeared in court on Monday and were not released on bail. Their next hearing is scheduled for July 5. The 254-year-old has been granted conditional release and will appear in court on May 24.
The arrests highlight the continuing illicit drug problem at the popular tourist destination, Northern Region Director of Operations, Acting Superintendent Greg Thomas APM, told the Morning Herald. “The Far North coast is increasingly popular with domestic tourists, and it is our job to ensure that locals and visitors alike feel safe in our holiday towns,” he said. -he explains.
Winchester-Stanton has not appeared in a movie or TV show since 2018 Hell is light, according to his IMDb page. He starred in the series Heartbreak High and At home and away. In September 2020, he made headlines in Australia for criticizing Melbourne folks and other tourists visiting Byron Bay in a Herald sun interview. “You can spot the Melbournians in a second,” he said at the time. “They just smell of Melbourne. Puffer jackets and ironed jeans. I mean what the hell is that?”
The actor also called tourists “greedy and selfish” about their visit during the coronavirus lockdown in Melbourne. “They’re probably here spending other people’s money,” Winchester-Stanton said. “If they’re sneaky enough to get here during this pandemic, then imagine what else they’re doing. They’re making my skin crawl.”