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Operation Julie – The drugs bust in rural 1970s Wales that shook the world

This is the kind of story that you’ve already heard whispers of.

This is the kind of story you can’t really believe happened. But you’ll talk to people about it and they’ll remember. They’ll know people who were there.

It’s a story that has grown beyond itself until the lines between truth and legend have blurred. A story that gripped village gossips and worldwide media alike.

If you’re fresh to this tale, let us start by telling you the facts.

The Facts

Operation Julie was the name given to one of the biggest undercover drugs operations in UK history, with 11 police forces and over 800 officers working throughout the mid-seventies.

It’s an investigation that started with a fatal car accident in Machynlleth which delivered an unexpected lead, and ended with an internationally co-ordinated drugs bust on 26 March 1977 during which 120 people were arrested across Wales, England and France.

The haul was staggering. There was enough LSD to reach a street value of £570 million today - the operation removed 90% of LSD from the UK market, causing it to rocket to 5 x its pre-1977 street price.

And the operation’s focus? The rural hillsides of west Wales.

But… here’s the really interesting bit. There’s more to this story than the facts.

It’s also about one man’s evangelical drive to transform human consciousness. It is about extraordinary people in unexpected places. It is about an operation that changed British policing forever. It is about mistaken identities, misleading conclusions and comic timing.

Theatr na nÓg are delighted to be working with Aberystwyth Arts Centre to bring a raucous prog-rock infused re-telling of Operation Julie to life. We'll be premiering the story at its place of origin, Tregaron, as part of the fringe events at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 2020.

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