Joint agency investigation into money laundering leads to alleged drug syndicate

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, New South Wales Police Force

Three men have been charged, firearms and drugs seized, and booby traps dismantled, as part of a joint-agency investigation into transnational organised crime.

Strike Force Bugam is a joint investigation between the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) Organised Crime Squad and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) into internationally-based money laundering syndicates operating in Sydney.

Since June 2016, Strike Force investigators have conducted extensive inquiries, resulting in the arrest and charge of nine people for various offences, and dismantling a transnational money laundering syndicate.

During this investigation, strike force officers conducted inquiries into a suspected drug supply syndicate.

Following extensive investigations, police from The Hume Local Area Command stopped a tow truck towing a Hyundai iLoad van at Marulan, just before 10pm on Wednesday (22 March 2017).

Officers search the van and located 8kg of cocaine, 6.2kg of methylamphetamine, and a Glock pistol, with magazine and ammunition.

An examination of the firearm revealed it is one of a number of Glocks illegally imported into Australia from Germany.

Shortly after, strike force investigators arrested a 32-year-old man at a home at Moorebank and taken to Liverpool Police Station.

About 4am on Thursday (23 March 2017), a 29-year-old was arrested when he arrived at the home at Moorebank, and taken to Liverpool Police Station.

The 32-year-old Moorebank man was charged with commercial drug supply and knowingly direct criminal group.

The 29-year-old Miranda man was charged with commercial drug supply.

Both men were refused bail and appeared at Liverpool Local Court, where they were formally refused bail to appear at Campbelltown Local Court on Wednesday 10 May 2017.

A police operation was then conducted involving strike force officers and police from the Drug Squad’s Chemical Operations, South West Metropolitan Region Enforcement Squad, Central Metropolitan Region’s Strike Force Odin, and local police, between Thursday and Friday (23 – 24 March 2017).

Strike force officers executed five search warrants at properties in East Hills, Moorebank, Miranda, and Yennora, where they seized nine firearms, a bulletproof vest, cocaine, MDMA powder and pills, methylamphetamine, cocaine block press, two old hydroponic cannabis setups, steroids, mobile phones, laptops, electronic storage devices, and documentation.

Specialist police from the Rescue and Bomb Squad inspected three booby traps, which were located in a gun safe at one of the properties. The items were seized by the Australian Defence Force.

Police also seized a Dodge 4WD and a Nissan Navara for forensic examination.

A third man – aged 70 – was arrested at one of the East Hills properties and taken to Bankstown Police Station, where he was charged with possess prohibited drug.

He was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Bankstown Local Court on Wednesday 12 April 2017.

Organised Crime Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Wayne Walpole, said the strike force’s results so far were indicative of the changing face of organised crime.

“Strike Force Bugam investigators have dismantled unrelated groups allegedly dealing in different aspects of ‘business’, who have been working together to profit through organised crime,” Det A/Supt Walpole said.

“The joint investigation is continuing and further arrests are expected. I would encourage those who are expecting us to come forward before we come to you.”

ACIC New South Wales State Manager Warren Gray said “serious and organised crime is growing in sophistication and constantly adopting new and advanced technologies to undertake illegal activities.”

“Investigations like Strike Force Bugam affirm the effectiveness of ‘following the money’ as a way of unearthing organised criminal activity, and collaborative work of law enforcement agencies is highly commendable.”