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15 December 2021, 7:46am
Media Release

AFP operational results helping to keep NSW safe in 2021

Editor's note: Grabs from Assistant Commissioner Kirsty Schofield are available for download.

The AFP in NSW have charged 182 alleged offenders with 869 Commonwealth charges in 2021, underscoring the crackdown on crime in the state.

The AFP's Eastern Command (NSW) has seized more than 14 tonnes of illicit drugs - including 5.8 tonnes of stimulants and almost 1.3 tonnes of cocaine – to date this calendar year.

In NSW, the AFP has worked with key law enforcement partners to keep the state safe, targeting child sex predators, outlaw motorcycle gangs, the proceeds of crime, terrorism, fraud and cyber criminals.

Eastern Command Assistant Commissioner Kirsty Schofield said the AFP's world-leading technical and forensic capability, plus exceptional local and international partnerships, was proving there was nowhere for criminals to hide in NSW.

"Transnational serious organised criminals are watching their networks systemically dismantled by the AFP in Eastern Command,'' Assistant Commissioner Schofield said.

"We know some have now moved offshore to try to escape the long arm of the AFP.

"But I have a message to these criminals. Our arm is much longer than they think, and the AFP will work relentlessly with our international partners to bring these offenders back to NSW to face justice.

"Whether criminals are here or offshore, it is just a matter of time before they will be arrested. Just when offenders think they have gotten away with their crimes, they will see the AFP coming up their driveway."

Assistant Commissioner Schofield said the AFP was working hard to identify and bring to justice those who sought to use their inside knowledge of logistics to facilitate crime.

The AFP's Sydney Aviation Crime Targeting Team is targeting syndicates attempting to use trusted insiders who use their airside access to facilitate and enable criminal activity at Sydney Airport. 

The Aviation Crime Targeting Team identified members who were allegedly involved in an importation of 38kg of methamphetamine in 2019 and allegedly planned to import between 32-40kg of cocaine on 7 March 2020. Their venture was disrupted when the nominated flight from South America was cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

This year, two syndicate members were charged with state-based drug supply and drug possession offences.

Another alleged offender was charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs relating to his alleged involvement in the 2019 importation of the 38kg of methamphetamine.

An alleged offender's wife, who at the time held an ASIC, was also charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime. It is alleged she banked $600,000 into her personal account.

On 14 October 2021, all six syndicate members were charged with criminal organisation offences, contrary to section 390 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth), for their role in the failed importation in 2020.

Separately, in September this year, an AFP-led operation resulted in the arrest of a Sydney man, 29, over the record detection of 350kg of heroin in 2020. The haul was the largest seizure in Australia in almost 20 years.

Operation Ironside – the biggest crime operation in the AFP's 40-year history – was ground zero in Eastern Command.

The three-year operation, which was made public in June this year, has to date charged 86 alleged offenders with 228 charges in NSW. Forty-eight weapons plus almost $23 million in cash, suspected to be proceeds of crime, have been seized in NSW under Operation Ironside.

Assistant Commissioner Schofield said the investigations undertaken by the AFP in NSW in 2021 had been complex and highlighted the skill of members, and relationships with partners.

In March, the AFP restrained two residential properties in Sydney, worth more than $3.8 million, after a human trafficking operation.

Two Sydney men faced Central Local Court in May after allegedly importing $1.25 million worth of cocaine in two air freight parcels.

Nineteen children in NSW were removed from harm after a man and woman were charged with 66 child sexual abuse-related offences. Details of the AFP-led operation were revealed in September.

Also in September, the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team, which comprises the AFP, NSW Police Force and ASIO, charged a man, 26, with a serious firearms offence, as part of an investigation into the importation of firearm components by an alleged supporter of ideologically motivated violent extremism.

The NSW Trade Union Taskforce, a joint agency taskforce comprising members of the AFP and NSW Police, charged two men with corruption offences in September under a long-running investigation into alleged corrupt payments from builders to union office holders.

In November, a man, 59, and a woman, 48, were charged with human trafficking offences in Western Sydney.

This month (December), two Malaysian nationals were charged under an AFP-led investigation that resulted in the seizure of $350,000. Both were charged dealing in the proceeds of crime more than $100,000.

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