The second phase of the Australian Federal Police-led Operation Ironside has this week resulted in eight men charged or issued court attendance notices in NSW for drug and proceeds of crime offences.
The AFP and NSW Police Force, with the assistance of the Australian Border Force (ABF), executed more than 20 search warrants across Sydney this week in targeted police activity as a result of intelligence collected from the AN0M platform.
Police seized 21 suspected encrypted devices, including AN0M phones, more than three kilograms of cocaine, other drug paraphernalia, false NSW drivers licences, more than $330,000 in cash, watch worth approximately $500,000, 12 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and rifle parts, including a silencer.
The activities of outlaw motorcycle gangs, Italian organised crime, illicit drug distributors, supply chains and trusted insiders are the focus of law enforcement action during this second phase of the operation.
AFP Detective Superintendent Matthew Ciantar said criminals had been openly communicating on the AN0M platform and sharing photos of their illicit activities.
“AFP investigators are working closely with partners to identify targets, backtrack on their criminal activities, apply additional charges, gather evidence for court prosecutions and disrupt future criminal endeavours,” Detective Superintendent Ciantar said.
“The results from this week are only the beginning of Operation Ironside Phase II, which will focus on drug supply chains and the activities of criminal groups, including outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
NSW Police Force State Crime Command Director, Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett, said the operation continued to weaken the ability of organised crime groups to effectively operate on Australian shores.
“By the time of Ironside II, our partners had developed detailed intelligence briefs on all targets identified as predominately being involved in the alleged manufacture, importation and supply of prohibited drugs.”
“Throughout this week we executed a number of warrants on various residential and business premises, seizing large amounts of cash and illicit substances, and gathered further information to assist ongoing investigations.
“Police also seized a number of Dedicated Encrypted Communication Devices (DECDs), which are used by criminals to coordinate anything from the distribution of drugs, to murders and other violent activities,” Detective Chief Superintendent Bennett said.
ABF officers are assessing security clearances at the airports to identify any trusted insiders in the supply chain of illicit drugs into and around Australia, such as checking for associations to organised criminal syndicates, including outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Acting ABF Superintendent Anthony Wheatley said the ABF remains committed to targeting and disrupting those attempting to import illicit substances into Australia.
“Once again we see the successful outcomes that can be achieved by working closely with our partners. I would like to commend our ABF officers and Home Affairs Intelligence analysts who are highly skilled and work at the border every day to detect harmful drugs and keep them off our streets,” Acting Superintendent Wheatley said.
The AN0M platform has supplied the AFP and its partners with great insight into the lives of organised criminals.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has received intelligence for assessment of possible income tax evasion on a number of alleged offenders.
ATO Acting Deputy Commissioner John Ford said the ATO works closely with state and federal law enforcement agency partners to investigate and prosecute those involved in criminal activities.
“The ATO is committed to disrupting organised crime and these partnerships help us to cast a wide net through information sharing and collaboration.”
AUSTRAC has been integral in assessing money laundering activities linked to Operation Ironside targets.
AUSTRAC Deputy CEO Intelligence, Dr John Moss said, “AUSTRAC’s specialist capabilities play a unique but critical role in law enforcement operations such as Operation Ironside.”
“We are highly focussed on using financial intelligence to contribute to the detection and disruption of these criminal activities.”
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has worked closely with partners to develop intelligence and targeting opportunities in support of Operation Ironside.
ACIC Acting Executive Director Intelligence Operations Tom Hester said the community will continue to see significant Operation Ironside results preventing illicit activity, like drug distribution and money laundering, from reaching our community and causing further harm.
“We look forward to continuing this work with our partners, extending our reach into criminal networks and maximising the impact we have using our intelligence capabilities,” Mr Hester said.
NSW Crime Commission Executive Director Criminal Investigations, Geoff Turner, said the NSWCC is committed to working with partner agencies and ensuring its efforts align with multi-agency investigations such as Operation Ironside.
“Using our unique powers and confiscation legislation, we will continue to target the TSOC networks impacting upon NSW communities and look to confiscate the proceeds of crime to strip criminal groups of their wealth and influence,” he said.
A 32-year-old Beacon Hill man was charged on 13 December 2021 with having in his possession a commercial quantity of cocaine, taken to be for supply, contrary to section 25 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW).
Police seized approximately three kilograms of a white powdery substance, suspected to be cocaine and a bulk press allegedly containing traces of cocaine.
The man was refused bail to next appear in Sydney Central Local Court on 8 February 2022.
That same day, police charged his business associate, a 35-year-old Seaforth man with supplying a prohibited drug (mushrooms) and possessing a prohibited drug (MMDA and LSD) contrary to section 25(2) and 10(1) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW).
He was also charged for possessing steroids and identification information to facilitate the commission of an indictable offence.
He was refused bail to next appear in Manly Local Court on 10 February 2022.
A 38-year-old Barangaroo man was charged on 14 December 2021 with trafficking commercial quantities of controlled drugs and dealing in proceeds of crime, money or property worth $1 million or more, contrary to section 302.2(1) and 400.3(1A) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
Police will allege this man has links to Asian organised crime and facilitated the handover of 10 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in Sydney, to be shipped to Adelaide in April 2020. NSW Police officers arrested a truck driver at the time with $2.75 million in cash, alleged to be the proceeds of crime, including the sale of the methamphetamine.
The 38-year-old man received bail to next appear in Sydney Central Court on 22 December 2021.
National Anti-Gangs Squad (NAGS) investigators laid a further charge on a 31-year-old Horsley man on 13 December 2021 for supplying a prohibited firearm.
He was arrested and charged on 6 June 2021 with money laundering offences and possessing drugs and firearms. Police allege he is the associate of a Comancheros OMCG Sergeant-at-Arms.
NAGS investigators also issued a court attendance notice on 14 December 2021 on a 34-year-old Yagoona man for allegedly dealing in money or property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime, contrary to section 400.9(1A) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
Police will allege the man was transferred $10,000 in May 2021 by a 41-year-old Comanchero OMCG Sergeant-At-Arms, who since Operation Ironside resolution in June 2021 has been charged with conspiring to import a marketable quantity of cocaine, large commercial supply of a prohibited drug and money laundering offences.
The 34-year-old man is due to face Parramatta Local Court on 9 February 2022.
NAGS investigators issued a court attendance notice on a 28-year-old Middleton Grange man on 15 December 2021 for allegedly possessing prohibited drugs and fraud offences.
The man is due to face Parramatta Local Court on 9 February 2022.
NSW Police Strike Force Granjon
A 24-year-old Regents Park man was charged on 13 December 2021 after NSW Police Organised Crime Squad detectives – together with the NSW Crime Commission – identified several cocaine importations which were allegedly facilitated using Dedicated Encrypted Communication Devices (DECDs) earlier this year.
In June 2021, police executed a search warrant at a Regents Park address and seized several DECDs and more than $5,000 in cash.
Following further inquiries, the 24-year-old man was arrested in Guildford just after 8am on 13 December 2021.
He was taken to Granville Police Station and charged with six offences, including possessing a commercial quantity unlawful import – border controlled drug, dealing with suspected proceeds of indictable crime less than $100,000, and four counts of importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drug.
Police will allege in court that the man is responsible for the importation of more than 55 kilograms of cocaine, with an estimated street value of about $24 million.
He was refused bail to next appear in Parramatta Local Court on 18 February 2022.
NSW Police Strike Force Arkana
A 43-year-old Kirrawee man was arrested on 14 December 2021 and charged with seven counts of importing commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, after he allegedly facilitated several importations of methamphetamine and heroin from Hong Kong to Sydney in June 2021.
During three search warrants undertaken by NSW Police Criminal Groups Squad detectives on 14 December 2021, officers located and seized numerous electronic devices, documentation, almost $30,000 in cash.
All items seized will undergo further forensic examination.
He was refused bail to next appear in Sutherland Local Court on 15 February 2022.
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.
- For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
- Access free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling online at www.counsellingonline.org.au.
- For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to www.turningpoint.org.au.
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