A multi-agency investigation into a threat by bikies has resulted in seizure of a large consignment of ephedrine. The investigation started around NSW and ACT.
State Crime Command’s Gangs Squad initiated investigation on reports of an extortion involving members of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCG). This resulted in unearthing a significant drug supply network. It was found that OMCG and other criminal groups were planning large-scale importation of border-controlled drugs into Australia.
Joint efforts of Australian Border Force (ABF) officers and detectives from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) led National Anti-Gangs Squad and ACT Policing Taskforce NEMESIS identified and intercepted a shipping container at Port Botany. Detailed examination of the consignment revealed 1.4 tonnes of ephedrine concealed in buckets labelled as sea salt. As of June 2017, this was the largest ephedrine (precursor chemicals) at the Australian border.
According to industry and trade sources 1.4 tonnes of ephedrine can be converted to 1.3 tonnes of ice. This can fetch up $650 million at the retail level. Following this, police from NSWPF, assisted by AFP and ABF, commenced an operation across Sydney and in the ACT. Search warrants were carried out at properties at Kurrajong, Glenwood, Londonderry, Cabramatta, Canley Vale, Georges Hall, Merrylands, Minchinbury, Seven Hills, Fairfield, and Penrith, and Forde, ACT. Use of services of any Sydney based customs brokers remains to be identified.
Officers seized five handguns, 6kg of ice, 10kg of ephedrine and more $2 million cash from different locations. They also identified a laboratory for processing of drugs at Georges Hall address. The Drug Squad’s Chemical Operation Team later on dismantled the laboratory. They also arrested 12 men – aged between 23 and 44.
The entire investigation was initiated after street violence between criminal gangs. This led to the dismantling of a multi-million-dollar drug supply network. Use of latest technology and cross border network of criminals demand cooperation of organisations across countries. Success of this operation was the result of cooperation between different law enforcement agencies in Australia and across the world.
Joined operation of police forces size 119 kilograms of Ice
In a multi-agency operation, combined forces of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), South Australia Police (SA Police), the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Victoria Police seized approximately 119 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine. Street value of the catch is estimated at $119 million.
An organised crime syndicate operating in Australia is alleged to be behind this crime. It is reported that this operation has disrupted the operations of the major crime syndicate. Following the seizure, three men associated with an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG) has been charged.
On the basis of alerts received, ABF officers checked and detected anomalies in a consignment which arrived into Melbourne from Malaysia. Inside a purpose-built transport stand, used to secure commercial equipment, 119kgs of crystal methamphetamine was found. Some smugglers use services of customs brokers to avoid detection. In this case, it is not clear, if services of any Sydney based custom broker was used.
In a separate operation, ABF officers located approximately $1.5 million cash – weighing more than 23 kilograms – concealed within the transport stand. This money is likely to be proceeds of criminal activity in Australia. The attempt was to take the money outside Australia.
This proved detrimental to crime syndicates who lost both money and material. Funds generated from criminal activity in the country is sometimes used to pay for the illegal drug imports. With this seizure, the movement of criminal profits overseas was blocked. Confiscation of money is just as disruptive to these syndicates as the seizure of illicit drugs.
In a controlled delivery, AFP substituted the consignment, which initially travelled to rural Victoria, and was then transported into a large rural property in South Australia. A 29-year-old Smithfield man and a 33-year-old Kilburn man who were allegedly responsible for facilitating this importation to Australia were arrested.
Along with this AFP and South Australia Police conducted a number of search warrants across the South Australian suburbs, including the rural property in South Australia. Success of the operation is the result of cooperation and coordination between different agencies, joint operations and intelligence sharing.