Friday, 17 February 2017
This song based on actual events, today over forty years ago 17th February 1976, Operation Julie was launched at a meeting in Brecon, involving a number of chief constables and senior drug squad officers. It eventually resulted in the break-up of one of the largest LSD manufacturing operations in the world. And thus started the rather sad war on drugs, that in my humble opinion can never ever be won.
The subsequent drug raid in 1977 on an LSD factory in West Wales discovered 6 million tabs and the largest stash of illegal drugs ever found. A force of over 800 police officers were involved. A total of 120 people were arrested and tablets with a street value of £100 million was found. Small villages like Carno, Llandewi Brefi and Tregaron suddenly found themselves under the worlds spotlight..
And incidentally the production of LSD in the area would not have been successful if it had not had received the tacit approval of the locals. Lyn Ebenezer, author of Operation Julie: The World's greatest LSD Bust, who was working as a freelance journalist in the area at the time, recalled:"Cardiganshire was at the time the counter-cultural capital. The likes of the Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix had all made pilgrimages to the area , so perhaps its no surprise that it became the centre of LSD production. But we didn't have a clue what was going on with these strange groups who'd moved in.To be honest, if anyone seemed more likely to be drug dealers it was the police acting as hippies, as the actual dealers were all educated professional people who stood their round and vlended in really well into the community. The dealers and the police would all be drinking in the pub together, getting up to all sorts of daft capers, so when the raids finally came we all had one hell of a shock."
In a mission which sometimes bordered on the comical, undercover police officers, spent most of 1976 in the wilds of Wales disguised as hippies.
Local police were largely unaware of this new influx of hippies new identity.On one occasion they were left listening to Radio Cymru for an entire day, while sheep gnawed through the bugging devices they had planted in the home of Tregaron home of one of the ringleader Richard Kemp. Down the road in Llandewi Brefi another group of male officers garnered unwelcome attention when were suspected of being a gay cult. This necessitated the introduction of female officers, including Sgt Julie Taylor, after whom the operation would eventually take its name, and who was immortalised in the above song by the Clash ' Julies Been Working for the Drug Squad.
Operation Julie ushered in a new era of policing that remains the blueprint for cross-force operations to this day. It also arguably represented the final death throes of the 1960's counterculture, shattering the idealism with which many had once viewed the drugs scene and marked the start of a harsher, more brutal era for the narcotics underworld. The traditional view of the dealers who were eventually given lengthy jail sentences is that they were idealists on a mission to change the world, rather than in it to making a fast buck.
Everytime I hear the song by the Clash now I am also reminded of my dear departed friend Chas who was born in 1977 and was bought up in a pub frequented in the history pages of this story in Llandewi Brefi.
I often wonder too, where all the acid has gone, I have not seen or tasted any for years.
The Clash - Julie been working for the drug squad
" it's lucy in the sky and all kinds of apple pie
she giggles at the screen 'cos it looks so green
there's carpets on the pavements
and feathers in her eye
but sooner or later, her new friends will realise
that Julie's been working for the drug squad
well it seemed like a dream, too good to be true
stash it in the bank while the tablets grow high
in their millions
and everybodys's high ( hi, man)
but there's someone looking down
from that mountainside
'cos julies's been working for the drug squad
and it' ten years for you
nineteen for you
and you can get out in twenty -five
that is if you're still alive
an' there came the night of the greatest ever raid
they arrested every drug that had ever been made
they took eighty-two laws
through eighty-two doors
and they didn't halt the pull
till the cells were all full
'cos Julie was working for the drug squad
they put him in a cell, they said you wait here
you've got the time to count all of your hair
you've got fifteen years
a mighty long time
you could have been a physicist
but now your name is on the mailbag list
Julie's been working for the drug squad
Posted by teifidancer at 10:00