Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Operation Julie

These days Llanddewi Brefi is probably best known for being the home of Dafydd, the only gay in the village, from the Little Britain TV series - but back in 1975 it was the world centre of LSD production. In his new book, Operation Julie: The World’s Greatest LSD Bust, Lyn Ebenezer re-examines the extraordinary events that inextricably linked a small area of Wales to the psychedelic underground.

At the time Ebenezer was a journalist in situ on Welsh-language paper Y Cymro. He recounts how Llanddewi Brefi was then a favoured haunt of pop stars who wanted to get away from it all. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and members of the Rolling Stones were all visitors. He even suggests that Bob Dylan might have stayed there for several weeks after the Isle of Wight festival.

The book’s main focus, however, is on the fabled Operation Julie drugs bust which took place in March, 1977. 6 million tabs of LSD with a street value of approximately £100 million were unearthed, and 120 people arrested. 800 police officers were involved in the raids. Suddenly the sleepy villages of Llanddewi Brefi, Tregaron, and Carno were thrust into the harsh glare of the media spotlight.

Ebenezer examines the political dimensions of the case and how it was reported in the press. He also gauges the effect that Operation Julie had on the local community. The traditional view of the LSD manufacturers is that they were torn between hippie idealism and a desire to make a buck. Interestingly, the author infers that the production of LSD in the area wouldn’t have been so successful if it hadn’t received tacit approval from locals.

Operation Julie: The World’s Greatest LSD Bust is published by Y Lolfa at £9.95. The book is also available in Welsh.