Organised Crime Syndicate Smashed in Victoria
Victoria, Australia (News4us.com) April 07, 2011
Australian law enforcement agencies have dismantled an organised crime syndicate allegedly trafficking drugs throughout the nation.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police charged 13 people today, seizing drugs, equipment used in the manufacture of amphetamine, firearms and items used for the production of counterfeit currency.
Officers also seized approximately $4.5 million worth of assets throughout the investigation, including two residential properties, a light aircraft and three luxury vehicles.
The action was the result of a 15-month joint investigation also involving the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
Four men, all from Victoria, will face Melbourne Magistrates Court tomorrow. The remaining nine people charged will face Ballarat Magistrates Court tomorrow.
It will be alleged that four of the men charged were trafficking commercial quantities of controlled drugs, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years imprisonment. Other allegations relate to dealing in proceeds of crime, possession of counterfeiting equipment and of possession of firearms. It is expected that further charges could be laid.
The joint operation saw the AFP, Victoria Police, the ACC and Customs conduct 25 search warrants in Victoria yesterday, focused on Melbourne and Ballarat.
Officers seized more than 2.5kg of drugs and precursors, a stolen motorcycle and a number of weapons including an assault rifle, three sawn-off shotguns and two handguns at various locations.
AFP Manager of Melbourne Office, Commander Scott Lee said that this operation will have a significant impact on organised crime in the eastern states and a substantial disruption effect on Victoria’s drug supply.
“This operation demonstrates the effectiveness of multi-agency collaboration and that Australian law enforcement agencies are ganging up against organised crime,” Commander Lee said.
“The operation involved the commitment of more than 200 members across the four agencies and demonstrates the dedication and patience to ensuring a positive result for the Australian community.”
“Importantly, the operation has also called upon the new multi-agency Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce, launched last month by the Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, to seize assets acquired as a result of alleged illegal activities.”
Detective Superintendent Doug Fryer from Victoria Police said the sophisticated network that this crime syndicate displayed was significant.
“The result today was only possible because of the successful collaboration between all the agencies involved,” Detective Superintendent Fryer said.
“This is a great example of the positive results that can be achieved when state and commonwealth law enforcement agencies work together to dismantle organised crime networks that operate throughout Australia without any respect to state boundaries.”
Australian Customs and Border Protection Services National Director for Enforcement and Investigations, Roxanne Kelley said the results achieved in this operation clearly demonstrate the advantages of the collaborative approach by state and federal law enforcement agencies in fighting organised crime.
“Combining the technological and specialist skills of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service with the skills of other Australian law enforcement agencies allows us to not only protect our international borders, but to assist in dismantling those criminal networks that would seek to harm the Australia community,” Ms Kelley said.
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