Edmondson Park man arrested in global criminal syndicate bust

An Edmonson Park man has been arrested during the dismantling of a global criminal syndicate this week.

The Join Organised Crime Group (JOCG) arrested eight Sydneysiders and one person in Dubai for their involvement in an alleged conspiracy to import drugs and tobacco into Australia under Operation Astatine.

The JOCG features officers from the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and NSW Crime Commission and targets high-level organised crime syndicates.

The operation began in early 2016 and focused on a NSW-based criminal network involved in drug trafficking and tobacco smuggling. Police allege the syndicate members played varied and active roles in a conspiracy to import 200 kilograms of MDMA into the country via sea cargo.

The syndicate is also accused of smuggling 50 million cigarettes into Australia and engaging in money laundering activities at home and abroad.

The JOCG searched 13 properties on Tuesday, including one at Edmonson Park, and seized approximately 80 kilograms of cocaine, $740,000 in cash. Properties were also searched in Rosebery, St Peters, Hurstville and Arncliffe.

A further $2 million was seized throughout the course of the investigation.

The 51-year-old Edmonson Park man was charged with offences relating to smuggling and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

AFP Coordinator Organised Crime and Cyber, Detective Superintendent Stephen Dametto, said the global reach of organised crime in Australia has become so complex that a high degree of sophistication and collaboration was required to combat these groups.

“This operation is a warning to organised crime targeting Australia that hiding on the other side of the world won’t save you. Once you are in our sights, we will focus our efforts on causing you and your predatory criminal activities as much damage as possible,” Detective Superintendent Dametto said.

“To complement the great work done by the NSW JOCG, the AFP’s international network has enabled investigators to work closely with our partners in the United Arab Emirates (and other countries) to destroy this syndicate – without their help, we would not have been able to achieve the results we have to arrest the top players in this syndicate.”

NSWPF Commander Organised Crime Squad, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook praised the work of investigators.

“Today’s operation brings to a conclusion 10 months of hard work by the members of the NSW JOCG and has resulted in an excellent outcome for the NSW community,” Detective Superintendent Cook said.

“The transnational nature of organised crime in NSW is now highly-complex and difficult to combat, yet the resolve of your police is unwavering. We will continue to develop our partnerships, locally, nationally and internationally to ensure we have the reach necessary to crush organised crime activities impacting NSW.”

The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), the AFP and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection also conducted a parallel investigation – codenamed Operation Zeus –  into a Border Force officer, who has been charged for allegedly using his position to assist the syndicate avoid law enforcement detection, as well as a number of other related offences.

A former Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer has also been charged with similar offences regarding her alleged conduct during the period of this investigation.

Border Force Superintendent Investigations NSW, Garry Low said the ABF had zero tolerance to any alleged corrupt behaviour and had been working actively with its law enforcement partners to respond to all threats posed by organised crime.

“Our determination to continue to work together to protect the Australian community is undiminished by the actions of a few,” said Superintendent Low.

“The ABF’s collaboration with our law enforcement partners and our multi-layered approach pre, at and post the border is having a significant impact on organised crime groups and this operation is a clear example of that.”

ABF Superintendent Investigations NSW, Garry Low said the ABF has a zero tolerance to any alleged corrupt behaviour and has been working actively with its law enforcement partners to respond to all threats posed by organised crime.

“Our determination to continue to work together to protect the Australian community is undiminished by the actions of a few,” said Superintendent Low.

“The ABF’s collaboration with our law enforcement partners and our multi-layered approach pre, at and post the border is having a significant impact on organised crime groups and this operation is a clear example of that.”

Members of Dubai law enforcement were also vital in dismantling the syndicate.

A 47-year-old man, from NSW who police will allege was the head of this syndicate, was arrested in the United Arab Emirates by the Dubai police anti-narcotics department, assisted by AFP and NSWPF detectives. His extradition will be sought in relation to drug importation offences.

A 42-year-old Rockdale man, a 54-year-old Rockdale man, a 44-year-old Arncliffe man, the 51-year-old Edmonson Park man, a 42-year-old Brighton-Le-Sands man, a 52-year-old Benowa (Queensland) man, and a 41-year-old Hurstville woman are next due to appear in Central Local Court on 25 October 2017.

A 59-year-old Mascot man is due to appear in Downing Centre Local Court 31 August 2017.

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