International Drug Syndicate Smashed Under New Strategy

Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Federal Police, Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), Western Australia Police

WA Police Force has taken the fight against the illicit drug trade across the world under a new strategy that seeks to disrupt the highest levels of organised crime in Western Australia.

The strategy has already resulted in significant outcomes - Operation Signal targeted one syndicate and culminated in the execution of almost 50 search warrants across Perth over recent days (8, 9 and 10 June) to unpick every known tentacle of the network.

Operation Signal commenced in August 2018 and in total has resulted in:
· 75kg of methylampetamine seized
· 10.5kg of heroin seized
· 3kg of cocaine seized
· 2kg of MDMA (ecstasy) seized
· 13 firearms seized
· $4.07 million cash seized
· 50 people charged with 130 offences

Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said at the centre of the strategy was the development of the Western Australian Regional Priority Organisation Target (WARPOT) list which identifies criminal organisations believed to be causing the highest harm to the State.

“Serious and organised crime has evolved to the point where it is a borderless crime – these drugs come from the Eastern States, they come from overseas and in fact West Australians are travelling abroad to source these materials,” Mr Blanch said.

“These high end offences are impacting in WA and we need to look outside this State to see where these targets are operating.”

At present there are six syndicates identified by WARPOT, however, the list constantly evolves as new intelligence comes to light.

Mr Blanch said partnerships with other Australian law enforcement agencies, such as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, AUSTRAC and other State policing services were critical to the strategy.

“Further to that, we have further developed direct relationships with international law enforcement partners such as the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency – this has included enhancing the capability of our own staff by seconding them to work directly with these agencies,” Mr Blanch said.

“The message to those who decide to profit from illicit drugs is that we will nominate you on this list, we will work with our partners across Australia and the world, and no matter where you are we will come after you.”

“We are not limited by our borders when we work with our partners.”

Mr Blanch said the WARPOT list is the foundation to understanding the people and structures that constitute the syndicates, which is key to developing disruption strategies.

“At a practical level this strategy can benefit law enforcement efforts across the world. These high end criminal targets cause harm across the world.”

Mr Blanch said illicit drugs, particularly methylamphetamine, caused significant damage to communities including on law and order, health and mental health, and families and neighbourhoods.

“WA Police Force has a critical role to play in disrupting the supply of illicit drugs in our community and the community can assist us by providing information about suspicious activities,” Mr Blanch said.

“This information goes into the complex mix of intelligence that our officers work through as part of their day-to-day business.”

Police Minister Michelle Roberts said the seizure is a win for the community and a credit to the outstanding work of the WA Police Force.

“Our Government is strongly focused on giving our police the tools they need to break the back of these evil drug syndicates. Groundbreaking strategies like these are key to disrupting them.

“Our $125.9 million investment in the Meth Border Force has boosted police efforts to intercept more of the drug and under our tough laws traffickers now face life imprisonment.

“This should send a strong message to drug traffickers that we are committed to disrupting your evil trade and the harm you spread within the community."

Anyone with information about suspected drug dealing in Western Australia can contact WA Police Force by calling 131 444 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.