Media Release: Federal and state law enforcement partnership dismantles international organised crime syndicate with 27 arrests

Release Date: Friday, March 22 2013, 11:00 AM

This is a joint media release between the AFP and Victoria Police

An international organised crime syndicate operating across five countries has been dismantled by federal and state authorities, resulting in the arrest of 27 people.

More than 42 kilograms of drugs have been seized. Ninety-nine designer handbags and wallets, $4 million in cash, $5 million worth of residential properties, $600,000 in casino chips, $10,000 worth of jewellery and a Lamborghini have been restrained.

Operation Volante began in April 2012 targeting a longstanding international organised crime syndicate importing and trafficking substantial quantities of heroin and methamphetamine (commonly known as Ice) into, and around Australia.

It is alleged that the syndicate has targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) partnered with Victoria Police targeted the syndicate with the assistance from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, New South Wales Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

Since April 2012 the investigation has carried out numerous search warrants, seized large amounts of drugs, arrested syndicate members active across Australia and restrained cash and luxury items.

Between Wednesday, 20 March and Friday, 22 March the AFP and Victoria Police conducted search warrants on 37 search warrants across Melbourne including residential premises, warehouses, vehicles shops, accountant offices and security boxes.

The AFP and Victoria Police subsequently arrested 49-year-old Tarneit man, a 48-year-old Balwyn man, a 58-year-old Box Hill man, 46-year-old Macleod woman, a 37-year-old Clayton South man and a 21-year-old Sunshine North man.

The six men have been charged with a range of offences including:

  • Dealing in the proceeds of crime, money worth $100,000 or more, contrary to Section 400.4 of the Criminal Code Act 1995;
  • Trafficking commercial quantities of a border controlled drug, contrary to Section 302.2 (1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995;
  • Importing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to Section 307.2(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

In this operation, approximately $9 million in assets have been restrained under Commonwealth proceeds of crime legislation. This action was undertaken by the Commonwealth Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce. The AFP-led taskforce brings together resources from the AFP, Australian Taxation Office and the Australian Crime Commission in a focused effort to target criminal wealth.

Throughout the operation, the AFP has worked with international law enforcement partners in China, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Hong Kong to target this syndicate.

AFP Manager Serious and Organised Crime, David Sharpe said that this investigation was a testament to the strength of the partnerships between international, state and federal law enforcement authorities.

“This syndicate was targeted by law enforcement agencies across five countries,” Commander Sharpe said.

“This operation will have a significant impact on the syndicate internationally and shows how successful joint partnerships are in combating organised crime groups targeting Australia.”

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana – Crime Command,
said that there is an increase in Ice availability.

“We know that Ice availability has been increasing on our streets,” said Assistant Commissioner Fontana.

“The dismantling of this organised crime syndicate, we expect, will dramatically effect that availability."

The four offenders arrested over the past two days have appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (20 March).  The two men arrested today will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today (22 March).

The 21 other people arrested through the course of this investigation have appeared in courts in NSW and Victoria throughout the period of the investigation.

In addition to this operation the AFP partnership with Victoria Police has resulted in the arrest of 56 people for drug-related offences, the seizure over two tonnes of illicit drugs and  chemical used in the process of manufacturing of illicit drugs, and the restraint of over $9 million in proceeds of crime since 2012 alone. 

The investigation is continuing both in Australia and overseas and further arrests are expected.
 
As this investigation remains ongoing, it is not appropriate for the AFP to comment further at this stage.

 

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media (02) 6131 6333
Victoria Police Media (03) 9865 2543


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