Police have arrested five people and seized drugs, cash and vehicles over the past 10 days as part of a Joint Organised Crime Task Force (JOCTF) investigation into an organised crime group operating out of Melbourne’s western suburbs.
Warrants were executed at three addresses early yesterday morning by JOCTF investigators, comprising members from Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
A 29-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman were both arrested at a residential property in Caroline Springs and subsequently charged with traffick large commercial quantity heroin, traffick large commercial quantity methamphetamine and traffick commercial quantity cocaine.
The pair faced Melbourne Magistrates Court and were remanded in custody to appear again on 8 December.
Detectives also seized a quantity of cash from the address.
A 2018 Mercedes Benz A45 Hatch, which belonged to the 29-year-old man, was subsequently seized from the car park of a shopping centre in Cairnlea later that day.
A 52-year-old man was arrested at a second Caroline Springs residential property and subsequently charged with cultivate cannabis, traffick amphetamine, theft of power and possess proceeds of crime.
He has been bailed to appear at Sunshine Magistrates’ Court on 7 June 2021.
Police located a hydroponic drug set up at the property and seized a number of cannabis plants, drugs believed to be ICE, cash and designer handbags.
A 31-year-old woman was arrested at a residential address in Fraser Rise and charged with cultivate cannabis and possess cannabis and possess heroin.
She was bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on 29 January 2021.
A hydroponic drug set up was also located at this address, with police seizing a small number of cannabis plants along with a 2018 Mercedes Benz Wagon GLE 350, designer watches and over 35 designer handbags.
Yesterday’s warrants followed on from the arrest of a man and significant seizures of drugs and luxury vehicles last week.
On Tuesday, 15 September police executed a warrant at a residential property in Deer Park and arrested a 40-year-old man.
He was charged with traffick large commercial drugs of dependence, traffick commercial quantity of heroin and traffick commercial quantity of methyl amphetamine and remanded to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 8 December.
During a search of the property, police located a quantity of drugs, believed to be heroin, methylamphetamine and cocaine.
Detectives later that night raided a factory in Altona, where they uncovered 12 luxury vehicles.
Two of these vehicles were seized as suspected proceeds of crime along with a vehicle parked outside the factory.
The vehicles included a Mercedes AMG GTS with a value of value approximately $300,000, a Mazda RX7 sports car and a Honda HRV.
During a search of the factory and a vehicle parked outside, police also located drugs, believed to be heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine, as well as a significant quantity of cash, jewellery and designer watches.
The investigation remains ongoing.
Victoria Police Crime Command Detective Superintendent Jacqueline Curran said the seizures of drugs and vehicles in particular was an outstanding result.
“These are people who essentially live the high life from profiting off other people’s misery and they had absolutely no qualms about doing this,” Det Supt Curran said.
“However this luxury comes at a cost to someone else and we know the immense harm that drugs do to the Victorian community.
“To be able to target and dismantle a syndicate like this at this time is both satisfying and concerning, because it highlights the continued local demand there is for a range of drugs even during the pandemic.
“Victoria Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure those who bring that harm to our state are held to account, and that any unexplained wealth is strongly and deliberately targeted.”
AFP Acting Superintendent Rebecca Goddard said the seizures and arrests demonstrate a commitment by Australian authorities to work collaboratively to prevent illicit drugs from reaching the streets and suburbs and causing harm to the Australian community.
“These arrests prove no matter how opportunistic organised criminals are, law enforcement is keeping pace and causing maximum damage to their ventures,” A/ Supt Goddard said.
“With current interstate travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19, it is clear criminals are opportunistic and greedy. The AFP remains committed to protecting Australians from those who seek to profit from suffering.”
ABF Acting Commander Nicholas Walker praised the partnership of the agencies involved in tackling organised crime.
“The collaboration between the law enforcement agencies that make up the taskforce will continue to work towards successful results like this in the future,” A/Cmdr Walker said.
Anyone with information about drug activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au