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Police are patrolling a quiet Welsh village amid concerns that criminals could try to unearth a huge stash of LSD said to have been secreted there four decades ago.
In 1977 police raided an old mansion in the village of Carno in west Wales and smashed a multimillion pound drugs operation said to have been supplying up to 90% of the LSD being used in the UK.
One of the detectives involved in the investigation, codenamed Operation Julie, is now claiming some of the stash may not have been found and may still be in pristine condition even after all these years.
Dyfed-Powys police are taking the claim seriously enough to warn villagers in Carno, near Llanidloes, that unwanted visitors may be on the way. They have told the owners of a house used as a drugs factory 40 years ago, Plas Llysyn, of the revelations and stepped up patrols in the area.
A police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys police are aware of the issue and are assessing the content of the disclosure. We will be checking the records we hold to establish whether or not matters raised warrant further investigation.
“In the meantime we will be making the current owners of Plas Llysyn aware of the disclosure and the potential for persons to visit the area in an attempt to locate the drugs. We will be providing them with reassurance through increased patrols.
“We would also like to make it clear Dyfed-Powys police take a robust approach to drug trafficking and that appropriate action will be taken in respect of anyone suspected of using the information disclosed to assist them in obtaining and supplying controlled drugs.”
Operation Julie was launched after one of the men at the centre of the drugs racket was involved in a car crash in the town of Machynlleth, west Wales. Police pieced together a torn-up note and found it mentioned a key ingredient of LSD.
Some 800 officers, some of them disguised as hippies seeking the good life, descended on west Wales. There were elements of farce to the saga. Some of the undercover officers had fights with local police to maintain their cover.
One group of male officers was close to being rumbled after locals began to suspect them of being a gay cult and started to take a close interest in them. That led to female officers being introduced, including Sgt Julie Taylor, who was to be immortalised in The Clash song Julie’s Been Working For the Drug Squad.
After months of painstaking surveillance the police swooped and seized 1m tabs and enough raw materials to make a further 6.5m. A total of 120 arrests were made, resulting in 15 convictions and prison sentences totalling 120 years. The price of an LSD tab is said to have rocketed overnight from £1 to £5.
In a new edition of his book on the story, Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story, the former officer Stephen Bentley said a statement from one of the gang members had claimed a substantial amount of LSD had been buried in a woodland near Plas Llysyn.
Bentley said he had only recently got hold of the statement – and believed it was true. “I have made my mind up. That stash is almost certainly still there,” he said.