$3.5 million cash seized, woman arrested in AFP investigation

AFP officers lay out piles of $100 bills on evidence bags.

Editor's note: Footage and images of this seizure are available via Hightail.

AFP officers have seized almost $3.5 million in cash and arrested a 57-year-old woman from Western Sydney as part of Operation Avarus, the AFP's national strategy to combat money laundering.

Officers from the AFP-led Taskforce Vanguard found the cash hidden in various locations throughout two units in the suburb of Carramar, with the woman living in one of them. More than $3.35 million was found in that particular unit, while another $130,000 was found in the other. Both units were secured by CCTV cameras and reinforced doors and windows.

Numerous mobile phones, more than 100 SIM cards, approximately 40 debit and credit cards, various cash-counting machines, and a range of receipts, ledgers and documents were also seized during the search warrant activity.

The woman was charged with one count of engaging in conduct in relation to money or property that was proceeds of general crime, contrary to Section 400.3 (1A) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). If convicted of this offence, she could face a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment.

She is scheduled to appear before Fairfield Local Court today, where it will be alleged she was involved in criminal activity relating to the seized cash. AFP investigations are ongoing to determine further criminal offences that may have been committed by this woman and other people.

AFP Superintendent Craig Bellis said the AFP-led Taskforce Vanguard was established in New South Wales last July to target criminal groups undertaking high-volume importations of illicit drugs and associated money laundering activities.

"Our Taskforce Vanguard investigators in Sydney operate in a high-tempo operational environment to deliver quick outcomes that have a tangible and direct impact on the operations of organised crime syndicates," he said.

"Removing $3.5 million from the criminal economy in one night is a positive result for the community, and we expect it will result in significant issues for a criminal syndicate that is now $3.5 million worse off."

"Money laundering endeavours are commonly used to fund other criminal activities. Seizing millions of dollars in cash can disrupt or cripple organised crime syndicates relying on that cash to fund other illegal ventures."

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