Queensland criminal syndicates targeted under AFP-led Operation Ironside

Special Operation Ironside - smashing criminal networks

UPDATE: Images and vision from this operation can be downloaded via Hightail.

Thirty-eight offenders have been arrested, 258kg of illicit drugs intercepted, five weapons seized and nearly $600,000 in cash confiscated in Queensland under the Australian Federal Police’s Operation IRONSIDE.

Operation Ironside North has charged individuals in Queensland who law enforcement allege are linked to outlaw motorcycle gangs and serious organised criminals.

AFP investigators, tactical teams, forensics specialists, support staff and Queensland Police, relying on cooperation with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and Services Australia, executed 36 warrants on 7-8 June.

More warrants are expected to be executed in the coming days in Queensland, the rest of Australia and offshore under a coordinated global response connected to Operation Ironside.

The AFP’s covert, three-year operation was enabled when the AFP developed world-first capability to unscramble encrypted communications. The encrypted communications were decrypted from an app that was covertly run by the FBI.

Operation IRONSIDE NORTH-SHROPSHIRE led to the dismantling of a criminal syndicate trafficking drugs and weapons around Brisbane and the Gold Coast with links to interstate couriers. Police seized five weapons including semi-automatic rifles, more than 200kg of illicit  drugs as well as nearly 800 cannabis plants and more than $300,000 in cash. They have also confiscated luxury vehicles, clothes and watches that will be alleged are the proceeds of crime.

Operation IRONSIDE NORTH-DESTINY unravelled an organised criminal group manufacturing MDMA in Brisbane. A key organiser in the group was a patched member of the Comanchero outlaw motorcycle gang.

Operation IRONSIDE NORTH-EUMENES dismantled a drug trafficking syndicate importing large quantities of methamphetamine through international mail. The syndicate was using dead drops and safe houses in Brisbane to receive and distribute methamphetamine.

AFP Northern Command Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale said Operation IRONSIDE had opened the door to an unprecedented level of collaboration between law enforcement both across the nation and around the globe.

“Thanks to Operation IRONSIDE, the AFP, together with significant collaboration from Queensland Police, had taken a wrecking ball to the criminal environment attempting to operate across Queensland,” she said.

Assistant Commissioner Gale said Operation Ironside would cause severe damage to Australian-based transnational organised crime groups seeking to import illegal drugs into the country, as well significantly disrupt Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

“This is an historic moment for law enforcement agencies around the world using this platform to target, identify and disrupt the alleged criminal operations of 36 people in this state alone,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.

“Thanks to our teams processing more than 18 million text messages on this platform, we have prevented significant harm to the community – including credible threats of violence and threats to life.

“Operation IRONSIDE should serve as the strongest warning to criminals yet – we will continue to be relentless in our pursuit to target and disrupt your illicit operations and to bring you to justice.”

Queensland Police Service Crime and Intelligence Command Assistant Commissioner Katherine Innes said:

“This is an outstanding example of agencies working together to disrupt organised crime.”

“This operation will have a significant impact on organised crime in Queensland and help keep the community safer.”

For more information relating to Operation IRONSIDE please view the national media release.

Note to media:

Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.

Media enquiries:

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

Further links:

National Security Hotline

Read the AFP Annual Report 2020-21

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

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