AFP in Western Australia reveals operational success in helping to keep the community safe

The AFP has charged 167 alleged offenders in Western Australia with 591 Commonwealth offences and seized almost 500 kilograms of illicit drugs to date in 2021.

Underscoring the AFP’s crackdown on Commonwealth crime in Western Australia, the AFP is today releasing details about its operational success this year in the state, and revealing how it has helped keep the community safe.

Of the 493 kilograms of illicit drugs seized this year, 84 kilograms were stimulants, 82 kilograms was heroin and almost 29 kilograms was cocaine.

If this amount of drugs had reached the West Australian community, the estimated total social cost would have been approximately $173 million - through crime, loss of productivity, and increased healthcare and justice costs.

The AFP estimates at least 155 lives were also saved by preventing this amount of heroin, cocaine and stimulants from reaching WA communities.

Earlier this month, the AFP revealed it incinerated more than $5 billion worth of illicit drugs seized throughout Australian in 2021.

In WA, the AFP has worked with key state and Commonwealth law enforcement agencies to help bring serious alleged offenders before the courts.

The AFP in WA has laid significant charges against alleged drug traffickers, outlaw motorcycle gang members, child sex predators and those accused of serious financial crimes. 

AFP officers, with the assistance of detection dogs, based at Perth Airport have helped to keep travellers safe in what has remained a busy time for flights within WA and across Australia.

The AFP has also provided access to world-leading capabilities to law enforcement partners in WA to assist in their investigations.

Operation Ironside, a three-year, AFP-led investigation that was publicly revealed in June this year, resulted in significant arrests in WA.

To date, 29 alleged offenders have been charged with 44 offences under Operation Ironside in Western Australia. More than 70 kilograms of illicit drugs, 31 firearms and more than $9.5 million in suspected proceeds of crime have been seized in the state.

More than $6 million of that money, seized from the jailed member of a criminal syndicate, has already been forfeited to the Commonwealth Government, when the AFP won its first Operation Ironside-related assets confiscation case in September.

AFP Western Command Acting Assistant Commissioner John Tanti said criminals should never think it was easier to get away with crimes on the west coast.

“The AFP works closely with partner agencies in Australia and abroad to help keep West Australians safe,’’ Acting Assistant Commissioner Tanti said.

“Some of our investigations are complex and require our world-leading tech and Commonwealth laws to help bring offenders to justice.

“This year, the AFP has had remarkable success in WA. The AFP has helped to keep the community safe from child sex predators, outlaw motorcycle gang members, illicit drug traffickers and those who are alleged to have committed serious financial crimes.”

AFP 2021 operational outcomes in WA include:

  • Charging five men in June over the importation of 77 kilograms of heroin – believed to be the biggest seizure in WA’s history. AFP and Western Australia Police Force officers arrested the men after Australian Border Force officers allegedly found the drugs in a consignment of industrial kitchen equipment;
  • In August, the Western Australia Joint Counter Terrorism Team (WA JCTT) – comprising of the AFP, WAPF and ASIO – charged a Perth man, 49, with allegedly impersonating a Commonwealth public official. Police will allege he was part of a group who discussed taking over the Federal Government;
  • The WA JCTT has also charged a Huntingdale man, 42, over online threats he allegedly made to harm politicians;
  • In August, charging the Master of a container ship that allegedly caused $1.5 million damage to a subsea communications cable off the West Australian coast – in what is believed to be the first prosecution for that offence laid by the AFP;
  • Charging two people in August with attempting to possess about 18kg of methamphetamine allegedly dissolved in a container of black paste described as waterproofing or wall coating. Working with Australian Border Force, the AFP arrested the man and woman, who are facing life imprisonment if convicted;
  • AFP officers at Perth Airport this month (December) issued $1110 infringements to four travellers who allegedly caused a disturbance on a flight and refused to wear masks and in November, charged a WA traveller, 61, for allegedly taping cannabis to his feet;
  • Charging an alleged senior Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle gang member, 53, with possessing 10kg of methamphetamine in March. The AFP arrested the man after it is alleged he dug up a duffle bag containing the illicit drugs;
  • In July charging a man, 64, with a child abuse offence relating to his alleged sexual abuse of a child in an Asian country. ABF officers examined the man’s electronic devices at Perth Airport. The WA Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team, which comprises AFP and WAPF officers, arrested the man after he was released from hotel quarantine, and
  • Charging a WA woman, 35, with a further 31 fraud offences in April after she was charged in 2020 with submitting multiple false claims to gain early access to superannuation worth $330,000. The criminal investigation was led by AFP Taskforce Iris investigators, who worked with the ATO as part of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce.

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