Nine people charged following execution of Sydney crime figure Pasquale Barbaro
Nine people have been charged following the bloody execution of crime figure Pasquale Barbaro, after a series of police raids in Sydney.
Tuesday’s co-ordinated sting unfolded just after midday when heavily armed officers raided more than a dozen properties including four at Sydney’s Olympic Park.
A total of 13 search warrants were executed and nine men aged from 18-29 were charged.
“All those charged with substantive murder were charged in relation to Pasquale Barbaro,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
Barbaro, 35, was shot dead on an Earlwood footpath two weeks ago.
Four of the nine men are facing murder charges and will appear in Sydney courts on Wednesday.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione launched Strike Force Osprey less than two weeks ago after a spate of bloody executions of notorious crime figures on Sydney’s streets.
“There is no end game. We will continue to target these individuals through methodical investigations and disruption strategies. There will be ongoing arrests. We will be protecting the State of NSW. We will be not tolerating any individual who has a total disregard for the community of this state and its laws,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Frank Mennilli said on Wednesday.
The other five men are facing criminal group charges and have court dates for December and January.
Officers from Strike Force Osprey worked with officers from Strike Force Raptor, which was set up in November last year investigating the activities of the Burwood Chapter of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.
Both forces were involved in Tuesday’s raids.
During the raid more than 40 mobile phones, 11 cars, a safe, cash, stolen NSW Police ID was seized and will now be examined by specialist forensic accountants from the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad.
Police from Strike Force Raptor also seized 20 long arms, 23 hand guns, 15 prohibited weapons, including ballistic vests and masks, silencers, a stun gun, and a homemade pipe gun; ammunition, methylamphetamine, and ecstasy, police said on Wednesday.
With eight shooting deaths over the past 17 months in Sydney, police have vowed to stamp out gangland warfare.
Just weeks before Mafia figure Barbaro was shot in Earlwood as he was getting into his Mercedes on November 14, hitman Hamad Assaad, 29, was shot in Georges Hall on October 25.
In April, gangland kingpin and convicted killer Walid Ahmad, 40, was killed in a spray of bullets on the rooftop car park of Bankstown Central shopping centre.
His murder is believed to be in retaliation for the fatal shooting of Safwan Charbaji outside a Condell Park panel beater several weeks earlier.
The month before that Michael Davey was shot dead in a driveway in a drive-by shooting in Kingswood. Believed to be a member of the Rebels motorcycle gang, Davey had escaped injury during a shooting at a shopping centre the previous year.
Police hunt for gangland killer
Who was Pasquale Barbaro?
Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was a notorious Sydney crime figure and part of a family with known links to the Calabrian mafia, from Italy.
The 35-year-old’s murder last night at Earlwood in Sydney’s inner west was one of several targeted shootings in Sydney this year.
The Barbaro family is well known to police and the criminal underworld.
His grandfather, who was also named Pasquale Barbaro, was murdered in a gangland hit in Brisbane in 1990 after turning police informant.
A cousin — another Pasquale Barbaro — was murdered in a hit in Melbourne in 2003 alongside notorious crime figure Jason Moran.
His uncle, yet another Pasquale Barbaro, is currently serving a 30-year sentence over a massive ecstasy bust — the world’s biggest — discovered in Melbourne in 2007.
Pasquale Timothy Barbaro — killed last night in Earlwood — survived a targeted shooting in Leichhardt in November last year.
Why was he targeted?
There are a number of theories.
Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was due to face the Sydney District Court in December over the production of the drug ice (crystal methamphetamine).
Crime journalist Keith Moor says there are suspicions Mr Barbaro may have been a police informant.
“The suspicion is he was probably killed for breaking the code of ‘omerta’ which is the code of silence,” Mr Moor said.
“The suggestion I’m getting is the dead Pasquale Barbaro was telling tales about the operations of the Calabrian mafia — as was his grandfather way back in the 1990’s.”
Equally, Mr Moor said the killing could be because of something unrelated to gang crime.
“He was involved in a number of criminal offences [including] drugs,” Mr Moor said.
“He’s obviously made some enemies [and there have been] attempts on his life in the past.
“It could boil down to something as simple as a domestic — there have been a number of Calabrian crime figures murdered because they’ve left their wives or slept with the wrong person,” he said.
One thing is clear according to NSW Police Superintendent David Johnson: Mr Barbaro was “clearly the intended victim” of last night’s Earlwood shooting.
Links to other shootings
There was a failed hit on Pasquale Timothy Barbaro‘s life in November last year.
Hamad Assaad, who was shot dead at his Georges Hall home just two weeks ago, was one of the major suspects in that attempted hit.
The Assaad shooting on October 25 has links to another targeted shooting in Bankstown in May.
Superintendent David Johnson said at a press conference today that police can’t comment on whether the murders are related.
“I can’t comment on the homicide investigations or strike forces as they are set up,” Mr Johnson said.
“I can’t say whether these matters are related because I don’t know the answer to that.”
The Calabrian Mafia in Australia
Crime journalist Keith Moor said the Barbaro family’s crime history stretches back decades in Australia.
“They’re going back way before the 1977 murder of Donald Mackay in Griffith,” Mr Moor said.
“The dead Barbaro from Sydney overnight… was literally born into the Calabrian mafia.
“It’s a trait that’s passed on from father to son,” he said.
Mr Moor said the Calabrian mafia is more active than people might realise in Australia.
“If anyone smoked a joint in the 60s, 70s, 80s — and lets face it a lot of people did — they were lining the pockets of the Calabrian mafia,” he said.
“They gradually got into the heroin trade… then they expanded to ecstasy.
“They basically recognised what the next big thing was in the drug market.”
Police found the man, 35-year-old Pasquale Barbaro, on an Earlwood footpath after being alerted to a shooting at about 9.40pm on Monday.
And a grey Audi Q7 found burned out in Sydney’s inner west could be the getaway car used in the execution-style shooting of a man linked to Sydney’s criminal underworld, say police.
Execution of standover man filmed
Meanwhile, the front door execution in 2013 of standover man Joe Antoun, a known associate of underworld figure George Alex, was captured on CCTV and played for a Sydney courtroom today – hours after Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down outside Alex’s home.
Mr Antoun was gunned down on the doorstep of his Strathfield home in Sydney’s inner west on December 16, 2013, in a contract killing allegedly arranged by Brothers 4 Life boss Farhad Quami and his brother Mumtaz.
Farhad, 34, and Mumtaz Quami, 31, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Antoun, who worked as a debt collector.
In their trial, CCTV footage was played showing a hooded figure waiting for several minutes before pulling out a handgun and firing several times.
The Daily Telegraph reported Crown Prosecutor Ken McKay SC told their NSW Supreme Court trial before a judge alone Antoun was at home with his wife when a camera showed a man at their front door.
“(Mr Antoun’s wife) went to a window and looked out and saw a person and called out to that person, asking who it was. The person she heard say, ‘It’s Adam. I’ve got a package for Joe’,” Mr McKay said.
“At about this time, Joseph Antoun opened the front door. There was a wire security door which was still closed. As he opened the door, Mr Antoun was shot a number of times and died in his house, it seems very quickly after being.”
The court heard, according to The Daily Telegraph, that before Antoun’s death his former business partner Elias “Les” Elias had agreed to purchase Mimtaz Qaumi’s Erina Kebab House for $190,000.
Mr Elias is in the Philippines, according to a police witness, and declined to provide a statement for the trial.
The confronting CCTV footage was shown hours after Barbaro’s execution this morning outside Mr Alex’s Earlwood home.
CCTV of Joe Antoun shot at his Strathfield home
NSW Police believe it could be linked to the killing of Mr Barbaro. “That vehicle has been towed for forensic examination,” Superintendent David Johnson told reporters.
Supt Johsonn said the victim, who had been visiting someone in the street, had been “shot a number of times”.
Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward so homicide investigators can piece together a chain of events that includes the Audi. Supt Johnson acknowledges some of the victim’s associates might not be keen to contact police.
“Given the sort of nefarious activities these people are engaged in, clearly it is in their best interests to come forward and speak to police,” he added. “These people [the shooters] are dangerous people.”
Early investigations suggest it was a targeted attack and Larkhall Street was cordoned off today as forensic teams examined the area.
Barbaro’s grandfather and cousin were both killed in gangland hits and there had been unconfirmed rumours Pasquale Barbaro was an informant for the NSW Crime Commission.
Gabriela Pintos lives at the end of street and said she heard gunshots late at night.
“We heard the gunshots … another maybe four gunshots and a couple of minutes later there was someone screaming,” she told AAP.
Another resident told AAP he heard as a many as seven really loud bangs in two bursts and saw a car speed away.
“You knew straight away what it was … I looked out the front and saw a car speed off,” the man, who wanted to be identified as John, said. Witnesses also reported seeing a car with three or four men wearing hoodies parked nearby ahead of the shooting.
He ‘may have broken the mafia code’
Barbaro may have been gunned down in Sydney because he was talking to the authorities, according to a journalist who’s written a book on the Barbaro family.
Journalist Keith Moor says the latest Pasquale Barbaro to die might have been killed for the same reason his grandfather was – he may have been “telling tales outside of school and breaking the code”.
“There could be other motives but that is a line of inquiry the homicide squad in Sydney will be pursuing,” the author of Busted told ABC TV.
Moor believes Monday night’s shooting could be difficult to solve because traditionally the Calabrian mafia are reluctant to talk to authorities. “I’m presuming that none of the Barbaro family will be willing to help police,” he said.
“They’ll probably do their own investigation into what happened.” The journalist said the problem for police trying to crack down on the Barbaros was that, as soon as one was knocked down, another seemed to pop up. “That’s been going on for generations,” he said.
The death comes two weeks after another crime figure, Hamad Assaad, was shot dead outside his Georges Hall home.
Mr Assaad was a key suspect in the execution of standover man Walid Ahmad at a Bankstown shopping centre in April.
That killing was thought to be in retaliation for the shooting homicide of Safwan Charbaji outside a nearby panel beater two weeks earlier. Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down in Brisbane in 1990 while his cousin Pat Barbaro was shot dead in a car park in Melbourne in 2003.
Another cousin, also called Pasquale, was involved in what was described as the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.
Some 15 million pills were hidden inside tinned tomatoes and shipped by the Calabrian mafia from Italy to Melbourne.
– With AAP