Breaking the Brotherhood-Digging up the bad old days of systemic police corruption and graft supported by the Government of the time


Background Information

FEATURE Moonlight State: The honest cop who helped blow the whistle on Australia’s most corrupt police force by Mark Willacy | ABC News | 12 Jun 2017 – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-12/four-corners-moonlight-state-afp-protected-chris-masters/8607314

FEATURE The Bagman, the secret codes, and the payments to a secret brotherhood of bent cops by Mark Willacy | ABC News | 12 Jun 2017 – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-12/fitzgerald-inquiry-files-reveal-inner-workings-of-corrupt-cops/8600046

Fact Check: Did Joh Bjelke-Petersen instigate the Fitzgerald inquiry? | ABC Fact Check | 20 Nov 2014 – http://www.abc.net.au/news/factcheck/2014-11-20/did-joh-bjelke-petersen-instigate-the-fitzgerald-inquiry/5889002

Journalism Matters: Fitzgerald inquiry resulted from basic reporting | The Courier-Mail | 7 Oct 2014 – http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/journalism-matters-fitzgerald-inquiry-resulted-from-basic-reporting/news-story/f34f2b0a95d86007fe12a9bd1a5c6c8a

Moonlight Reflections by Chris Masters | Griffith Review | Aug 2008 – Chris Masters reflected on the making and remifications of the Moonlight State investigation. https://griffithreview.com/articles/moonlight-reflections/

Queensland: Ten Years After Fitzgerald | Background Briefing | 16 May 1999 – http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/backgroundbriefing/queensland-ten-years-after-fitzgerald/3565808

The Fitzgerald Inquiry | Crime & Corruption QLD | 1989 – The Fitzgerald report was tabled in Parliament in July 1989. It made over 100 recommendations covering the establishment of the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission and the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and reform of the Queensland Police Force. Download the report here: http://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/about-the-ccc/the-fitzgerald-inquiry

Police inquiry turns blowtorch back on accusers by Paul Bongiorno | The Bulletin Archives | 26 May 1987 – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1363645-the-bulletin-police-inquiry-turns-blowtorch-back.html

Sir Joh says PM has dingoed out on electorate | SMH Archives | 28 May 1987 – https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1363976-smh-sir-joh-says-pm-has-dingoed-out-on.html

RELATED 4 CORNERS PROGRAMS

Beyond Bethany | 3 Mar 2008 – Twenty years on Chris Masters assesses the Joh Bjelke-Petersen legacy. Watch Online

The Moonlight State | 11 May 1987 – Chris Masters’ investigation into Queensland police corruption led to the Fitzgerald Inquiry, resulting in over 100 convictions and the police commissioner being jailed. Watch Online


“The Joke” was a system of protection involving illegal gambling, bookies, and brothels in QLD for more than a decade, probably decades


Updated June 12, 2017 14:19:00

It was Queensland, the year was 1987, and the State’s police force was riddled with corruption. The brotherhood of crooked cops who gave the green light to illegal gambling and prostitution believed they were untouchable.

“The level and systemic nature of it, reaching to all levels, including the highest political levels, was truly a shock to me.” Leading Criminal Investigator

There was a conspiracy of silence, from within the Queensland Government and all the way up to the highest levels of the force. The nature and the extent of the corruption sickened the honest cops, who operated in a world where they could trust no-one

Breaking the Brotherhood – Monday 12 June 2017

“‘Break his camera and break his mouth too!’ was the order.” Chris Masters, ‘The Moonlight State’ (1987)

It was Queensland, the year was 1987, and the State’s police force was riddled with corruption. The brotherhood of crooked cops who gave the green light to illegal gambling and prostitution believed they were untouchable.

“The level and systemic nature of it, reaching to all levels, including the highest political levels, was truly a shock to me.” Leading Criminal Investigator

There was a conspiracy of silence, from within the Queensland Government and all the way up to the highest levels of the force. The nature and the extent of the corruption sickened the honest cops, who operated in a world where they could trust no-one.

“There were times that I actually feared for my life and for the life of my family. It was clear to me that we had institutionalised corruption taking place.” Undercover Operative

A small band of brave crime fighters, and their families, took the enormous risk to trust a journalist with the State’s darkest secrets. The result was ‘The Moonlight State’, perhaps the most explosive true story ever told on Australian television.

“There is another side to the Sunshine State. Despite some wholesome attempts to pretend otherwise, the Queensland Government has not managed to stop the devil at the border. In the Sunshine State, sex is a great little earner.” Chris Masters, ‘The Moonlight State’ (1987)

Chris Masters’ landmark report prompted one of the most important anti-corruption investigations in Australian history, the Fitzgerald Inquiry, which led to the jailing of the Queensland Police Commissioner.

But the whole story of how the whistle was blown has never fully been told. Now the key players who put their trust in Chris Masters have come forward to tell their story, on camera, for the first time.

“I’m sitting there with my wife at home, because I knew when it was going to air, and I’m watching it. And I had this silly grin on my face, but it was also teary because we actually made it, we survived. The story got to air.” Whistleblower

“I believe that fate brought (us) together and that something had to be done.” Undercover Operative

The program also reveals the shocking lengths corrupt police went to, to try to silence the whistleblowers, and reporter Chris Masters.

“My son had been walking home from school and a car had pulled up beside him and told him that his father was going to be killed.” Undercover Police Officer

“Things got very scary, and a very powerful syndicate of organised criminals and corrupt police realised that they had an illicit empire to protect and they started to play nasty.” Chris Masters

Thirty years on from ‘The Moonlight State’, leading law enforcement figures warn that every police force today must remember the lessons of those dark days so they can never be repeated.

Breaking the Brotherhood, reported by Mark Willacy and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 12th June at 8.30pm EDT. It is replayed on Tuesday 13th June at 10.00am and Wednesday 14th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Saturday at 8.00pm AEST, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.

First posted June 12, 2017 13:43:00


Moonlight State: The honest cop who helped blow the whistle on Australia’s most corrupt police force – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)


Moonlight State: The honest cop who helped blow the whistle on Australia’s most corrupt police force

June 12th, 2017 Updated about 2 hours ago

It was an unusual assignment, and Australian Federal Police officer Dave Moore wasn’t happy about it.

“I had a call to go and visit the assistant commissioner,” he recounted.

“He asked me to keep a lookout for a bloke by the name of Chris Masters from Four Corners.”

To Mr Moore, babysitting a journalist was not part of his remit.

“I’ll be honest, I told [my assistant commissioner] I didn’t want to do the job,” he said.

But an order was an order.

It was 1987, and the AFP hierarchy had information that Masters was in danger.

He wasn’t at risk from the criminal underworld, but from the corrupt members of the Queensland police.

“It was made very clear that they were concerned for Chris’s safety,” said Mr Moore, speaking for the first time about the AFP’s secret role in protecting the Four Corners reporter.

“So we put the resources of the AFP, discreetly, behind keeping a lookout for Chris.”

‘We were being watched and shadowed’

Masters was getting too close to a brotherhood of bent cops and their network of graft and corruption, an arrangement known as “the Joke”.

What was the Joke?

The Joke was a vast system of graft and protection involving illegal gambling, starting price bookmakers, brothels and massage parlours that stretched back decades in Queensland.The dirty money flowed to the police, particularly to several senior members of the infamous Licensing Branch, who in exchange for regular cash payments turned a blind eye to vice.

In its later and most lucrative form, the Joke was administered by Jack Herbert, who, by the time it all came crashing down, was passing on nearly $60,000 a month in protection money to police.

Herbert was estimated to have received more than $3 million in payments.

In early 1987 The Courier-Mail ran a series of articles about unchallenged vice in Brisbane.

Then in May, The Moonlight State program was broadcast on Four Corners, revealing that police were being bribed to protect vice in Queensland.

The next day the acting premier Bill Gunn called a judicial inquiry.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry would run for two years and hear from more than 300 witnesses.

Evidence from the inquiry would lead to four government ministers and police commissioner Terry Lewis being jailed.

Other police would go to prison, while senior officers — including the assistant commissioner Graeme Parker — would give evidence in exchange for indemnity from prosecution.

The Fitzgerald Inquiry would also lead to the establishment of Queensland’s first anti-corruption body.

Stretching back several decades, the Joke was a system of protection payments that flowed from brothel owners, SP bookies and illegal gaming operators into the hands of corrupt police.

It was worth millions, and the Joke’s tentacles reached right to the top of the Queensland force.

In late 1986, early 1987, Masters had been sniffing around Brisbane’s red light district of Fortitude Valley for weeks talking to pimps, prostitutes and disgruntled police.

His inquiries were making the brotherhood nervous.

“We were being watched and shadowed,” Masters recalled.

“I didn’t really know that until Dave started to point out people who were surveilling me.”

Mr Moore says he first met Masters “up at the Tower Mill [Hotel]”.

“It became quite apparent to me that there was someone paying quite a lot of attention to Chris across the road,” he said.

“We later found out it was a hired vehicle which was being used by officers of the [Queensland] Police Force.”

The plan to frame Chris Masters

As Masters got closer to cracking the Joke, the police brotherhood knew it had to destroy the Four Corners reporter before he destroyed them.

“They took him extremely seriously, to the point where they were on the brink of literally setting him up,” said Matthew Condon, the author of a three-book series on police corruption in Queensland.

“The plan was that they would plant an underage boy in Masters’ hotel room in the city and ultimately, whether they could prove it or not, the mud would have been thrown against Masters to discredit him.”

Masters would only be told of the plan to stitch him up many months later, after The Moonlight State had gone to air.

“I learnt of it through [former rugby league player] Tommy Raudonikis. He’d heard of it from a police mate and he then tipped off my brother Roy who told me,” Masters said.

“But when it was all supposed to happen I wasn’t in Brisbane, I was back in Sydney.”

The plan revealed the lengths the corrupt Queensland police brotherhood was prepared to go to protect the Joke.

It had flourished for years under the stewardship of a man known as “the Bagman”.

Jack Herbert was a former police Licensing Branch detective who for years was the conduit between the crooks and the cops.

He doled out hundreds of thousands in bribes to corrupt police.

Masters travelled the state speaking to and interviewing people about the Joke.

On May 11, 1987, The Moonlight State went to air on Four Corners.

“The pivotal thing about The Moonlight State and why it caused an earthquake was that for the first time, what Masters achieved, was a link between criminal figures, the underworld and corruption and police,” Condon said.

“That’s what caused so much drama and why it was an astonishing piece of television journalism.”

For Masters, the day after The Moonlight State would bring fresh drama.

“I wake up to the sounds of my own heartbeat,” he said.

“These are scary moments, sometimes the worst moments because you’ve done your best, you’re pretty much exhausted, but then a whole new battle begins.”

That battle would become the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

It would run for two years, hear from 339 witnesses and see the police commissioner, Sir Terence Lewis, jailed and stripped of his knighthood.

Also convicted were senior police and Valley kingpin, Gerry Bellino, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for paying bribes.

As for Jack “the Bagman” Herbert, he escaped jail by rolling over and telling all to the inquiry.

Watch Four Corners’ Breaking the Brotherhood at 8:30pm on ABC and iView.

The Moonlight State, the 1987 report that prompted the Fitzgerald Inquiry, can be viewed in full on the Four Corners website.

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, police, qld, australia

First posted about 4 hours ago

Contact Mark Willacy


en.wikipedia.org

Fitzgerald Inquiry – Wikipedia


The Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct (the Fitzgerald Inquiry) (1987–1989) into Queensland Police corruption was a judicial inquiry presided over by Tony Fitzgerald QC. The inquiry resulted in the deposition of a premier, two by-elections, the jailing of three former ministers and a police commissioner who was jailed and lost his knighthood. It also led indirectly to the end of the National Party of Australia‘s 32-year run as the governing political party in Queensland.

History

The inquiry was established in response to a series of articles on high-level police corruption in The Courier-Mail by reporter Phil Dickie, followed by a Four Corners television report, aired on 11 May 1987, entitled “The Moonlight State” with reporter Chris Masters. Both reports highlighted prostitution, gambling and possible police corruption.[1] With Queensland‘s Premier of 18 years, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, out of the state, his deputy Bill Gunn ordered a commission of inquiry the day after the television report was broadcast.

The allegations aired in the media were not new; they had surfaced from time to time and some news organisations had been forced to pay damages to aggrieved people who alleged their reputations had been damaged (Bjelke-Petersen himself was notoriously litigious in response to unfavourable press coverage). Ian Callinan drafted the terms of reference for the inquiry as well as appearing before it.[2] While the terms of the inquiry were initially narrow, restricted only to the specific allegations raised against specific persons named in the media over a period of just five years, Fitzgerald used his moral authority to lever the inquiry into a position of being able to inquire into any relevant matter. The terms of reference for the Commission were extended twice.[1]

This enabled him to set a new precedent for commissions of inquiry and Royal Commissions in Australia generally, using innovative methods such as indemnities from prosecution for key witnesses to secure vital evidence. The inquiry was initially expected to last about six weeks; it instead spent almost two years conducting a comprehensive investigation of long-term, systemic political corruption and abuse of power in Queensland. Public sittings were held on 238 days, hearing testimony from 339 witnesses.[1]

On 28 August, a Licensing Branch sergeant, Harry Burgess implicated Jack Herbert, and assistant commissioner Graeme Parker. Parker confessed and implicated police commissioner Sir Terry Lewis on 16 September.[3]

The inquiry would eventually outlive the Bjelke-Petersen government. Mike Ahern became the new Premier after Bjelke-Petersen was deposed by his own party.[4] Evidence revealed by the investigation (including testimony from Bjelke-Petersen himself) caused significant political damage and an internal power struggle within the National Party, resulting in Bjelke-Petersen resigning as Premier after his unsuccessful attempt to have the Governor of Queensland sack all of his ministers after they deposed him as party leader.

The inquiry’s special prosecutor was Doug Drummond QC. It was Drummond who decided not to retry Bjelke-Petersen after the hung jury.

Findings

Fitzgerald’s report was submitted on 3 July 1989.[1] Based on the inquiry’s final report,[5] a number of high-profile politicians were charged with crimes; notably Queensland Police Commissioner (Sir) Terry Lewis was charged with corruption.

Bjelke-Petersen himself was charged with perjury in respect of evidence given to the inquiry. The jury in the case remained deadlocked, bringing about a mistrial.[6] In 1992 it was revealed that the jury foreman, Luke Shaw, was a member of the Young Nationals, was identified with the “Friends of Joh” movement and had misrepresented the state of deliberations to the judge. According to an ABC TV analysis, “A later inquiry conducted by Justice Bill Carter found the selection process had been manipulated by …ex-police officers …helping to put Joh before a jury led by Young Nationals member, Luke Shaw.”[7] A special prosecutor announced in 1992 there would be no retrial because Sir Joh, then aged 81, was too old.

Jack Herbert had been the bagman, collecting bribes for police commissioner Terry Lewis from 1980. Lewis himself had been a bagman for former commissioner Francis Bischof.[3] Lewis was convicted (and subsequently stripped of his knighthood).

Leisha Harvey former health minister, was charged with misappropriating of public funds as part of an investigation resulting from the findings of the inquiry. She spent one year in jail.[4] Don Lane, former transport minister, was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment for falsifying expense accounts.[4] Lane’s resignation resulted in the 1989 Merthyr state by-election. Brian Austin, another former health minister, was convicted of misappropriating public funds. Hinze’s resignation led to the 1988 South Coast state by-election.

The Queensland Police Special Bureau was formed on 30 July 1940 and renamed Special Branch on 7 April 1948. It was criticised for being used for political purposes by the Bjelke-Petersen government in the 1970s and 1980s, such as enforcing laws against protests (sometimes outnumbering the protesters or using provocateurs to incite violence so the protesters could be arrested[8]) and investigating and harassing political opponents.[9] It was disbanded in 1989 following a recommendation by the Fitzgerald Inquiry.[9] Special Branch destroyed its records before Fitzgerald could subpoena them.[9]

In large part due to public anger over the revelations in the Fitzgerald report, the National Party was heavily defeated in the December 1989 state election, which brought the Australian Labor Party to power for the first time since 1957.

Recommendations

The two most significant recommendations were the establishment of the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) and the Electoral and Administrative Review Commission which was to review electoral boundaries.[1] The need for Freedom of Information legislation in the state was noted, as was the need to review laws relating to public assembly and guidelines for the disclosure of pecuniary interests of parliamentarians. The CJC was to be responsible for investigating specific individuals mentioned during the inquiry.

The police culture of the state was also criticised. Aspects such as loyalty to fellow police officers, police not enforcing laws against other police and criticism of other police being impermissible[clarification needed] were condemned because they led to misconduct, inefficiency and contempt for the justice system.[1] Many of the inquiry’s recommendations were implemented by Wayne Goss, the first Labor Party Premier of Queensland in 32 years.

Cultural depictions

Bjelke-Petersen’s trial was later the subject of a TV movie, “Joh’s Jury“.[10]

Margot Hutcheson painted a picture of the inquiry, Wasn’t the Fitzgerald Inquiry Fun?[11]

In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Fitzgerald Inquiry was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a “Defining Moment”.[12]

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Commission of Inquiry into Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct, “Fitzgerald Inquiry report”, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1989.

Further reading

FOR more than three decades, Queensland Police simply called it “The Joke”.

And for the crooked cops who were in on it, along with a cavalcade of pimps, gamblers, prostitutes, drug dealers and politicians, being part of the punchline was lucrative business.

When The Courier-Mail finally exposed the system of corrupt payments with the landmark reporting of journalist Phil Dickie in 1987, it was clear the operation had penetrated the highest echelons and darkest recesses of life in the Sunshine State.

Police Commissioner Terry Lewis and other corrupt officers were caught taking bribes from a pool fed by bookies and brothel owners, such as Geraldo Bellino.

Vic Conte

The main beneficiaries were the police. Courier-Mail journalist Matt Condon, who has written a best-selling ­trilogy about that era, wrote The Joke was an “elaborate, multi-million dollar scheme of kickbacks from illegal gambling, SP bookmakers, brothels and escort services”.

At its zenith in the mid- 1980s, the system’s meticulous bookkeeper Jack “the Bagman” Herbert was raking in so much cash he was running out of places to store it in his luxury, riverfront apartment at East Brisbane.

By 1987, he was chan­nelling about $56,000 a month to police to protect SP bookmakers, casino and brothel operators from any serious law enforcement.

By then, the system was brazenly operating in the open, secure in its institutional hold on the police force and protection from the National Party government of then premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Bagman Jack Herbert

Detective Sergeant Tony Murphy

Dickie’s investigative skills eventually shattered The Joke’s sense of impunity as he exposed the chain of money flowing to the police’s notorious Licensing Branch.

Reports in The Courier-Mail and an expose by ABC journalist Chris Masters on Four Corners led to the Fitzgerald inquiry, which finally finished The Joke in 1989 as three government ministers and police commissioner Terry Lewis were jailed.

Want to see more?( 6 more photos in collection )Continue to full gallery

In the final instalment of his trilogy, All Fall Down, Condon details a 1984 document written by serving police that provided forensic insight into The Joke’s structure, operation, breadth and membership.

It traced the system back to the 1950s, when the force was riven by factional fighting between Irish Catholics and the Masons.

The Joke then flourished under Frank Bischoff, who was commissioner from 1958 to 1969. Bischoff initiated Lewis, who was a young detective at the time, into the system and groomed him as a future successor.

Police Commissioner Frank Bischoff.

Notorious poker machine king, businessman and yachtsman Jack Rooklyn.

Lewis readily accepted his new duties, becoming one of the notorious Rat Pack, which included Herbert and detectives Tony Murphy and Glen Hallahan.

Murphy, who later rose to be assistant commissioner, allegedly coined the term The Joke and ensured that the Rat Pack controlled its operations. He was known as The Godfather.

The rest of The Joke operated as a series of autonomous cells led by an officer known as a “control”. Controls answered to another control on the level above them but would not deal with any other person, insulating the Rat Pack from being ­exposed. Citing the document, which was sent to then opposition police spokesman Kevin Hooper, Condon said the Rat Pack used police resources to corrupt politicians, government departments and leaders of industry.

“Illegal tapping of phones and use of sophisticated electronic surveillance gear, control of illegal gambling, prostitution at all levels and the keeping of comprehensive files on citizens of prominence are all ways in which this group of men are able to get appointed to high rank in the department,” the document said.

“There is not a level of ­society that these men do not have contacts and informants who work for them either through fear of exposure or for monetary gain.”

Hector Hapeta

Graeme Parker

 

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Drug ring raids net historic $360m cocaine haul


abc.net.au

Drug ring raids net historic $360m cocaine haul

By Siobhan Fogarty

Updated 18 minutes ago

Thu 29 Dec 2016, 12:17pm

A former NRL player and a Bondi businessman have been linked to a drug ring after New South Wales Police recorded the biggest cocaine haul in Australia’s history.

Key points:

  • 1.1 tonnes of cocaine worth $360 million seized by AFP and NSW police
  • Two seizures of cocaine make the biggest haul of the drug in Australian history
  • 15 men arrested including a former NRL player and a Bondi businessman

The joint strike force between Australian Federal Police and the New South Wales Police drug squad arrested 15 men and seized about $360 million worth of cocaine.

Former Roosters player John Tobin is one of the accused smugglers, along with Bondi businessman Darren Mohr.

The criminal syndicate was allegedly using a trawler based at the Sydney Fish Market to meet a “mother ship” from South America to bring drugs into the country.

About 500 kilograms of the drug was seized on Christmas Day at Brooklyn on the central coast of New South Wales.

Police allege 600 kilograms was seized in Tahiti and 32 kilograms of heroin was found in Fiji with both loads destined for the market in Australia.

Acting Assistant Commissioner, Chris Sheehan, said the police operation had been running for almost three years and escalated with the arrests over the Christmas period.

“The criminal syndicate we have dismantled over the last few days was a robust, resilient and determined syndicate,” he said.

“This is the largest cocaine seizure we have had in Australia.

“It posed an ongoing and continued threat to the Australian community and without the work of our police, would still be in action today.”

Tip-off from community led to bust

Assistant Police Commissioner, Mark Jenkins said a member of the community gave them a tip-off two and a half years ago that led to the cocaine haul.

“As a result, over one tonne of drugs has been prevented from reaching the streets of New South Wales and harming the community,” he said.

“That small piece of information has resulted in 15 arrests and a large seizure of drugs.”

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

Video: Police seized 500kg worth of cocaine in NSW (ABC News)

Officers allege the group of men, aged from 29 to 63, are involved in the Australian criminal syndicate responsible for the attempted imports.

They have been charged with serious drug importation offences and eleven of the 15 men have appeared before Parramatta Local Court and were refused bail.

A 49-year-old man and a 63-year-old man are due to appear before Central Local Court today.

Two other men, a 33-year-old and 39-year-old are also expected to front Nowra Local Court today after they were arrested at Ulladulla yesterday.

Police said they were confident all alleged members of the criminal syndicate were in custody.

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

Video: Arrests made after $360m worth of cocaine seized (ABC News)

Topics: crime, law-crime-and-justice, drug-offences, nsw

First posted about 4 hours agoThu 29 Dec 2016, 7:48am


smh.com.au

Police smash cocaine ring at Sydney Fish Market in Christmas Day raid

By Rachel Olding, Latika Bourke, Rachel Browne

A former rugby league first grade player, a Bondi entrepreneur and a several fishermen are among 15 men arrested on Christmas Day in a multimillion-dollar cocaine ring bust.

Police will allege the men were imported more than a tonne of cocaine via the iconic Sydney Fish Market and other NSW ports.

Australian Federal Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan described the alleged syndicate as “robust, resilient and determined”.

He told a packed Sydney press conference that the 15 arrested men were “determined to exploit some of the most vulnerable members of the community.”

The seizure of 500kg of cocaine in Sydney, 600kg of the drug in Tahiti and 32kg of heroin in Fiji make it the largest drug bust of its kind in Australia.

NSW Police State Crime Commander Mark Jenkins said all the drugs originated in South America before being transferred across the South Pacific by ship.

Several of the men were arrested on Christmas Day as they docked a shipping vessel named Dalrymple at the Sydney Fish Markets.

It’s alleged the boat was used to ferry drugs between NSW ports and a larger ship stationed out at sea that held drugs smuggled from Chile.

Operation Okesi, comprising officers from NSW Police, Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force, started over two-and-a-half-years after police received a “thread” of information.

Since then, five alleged importations by the sophisticated syndicate have been thwarted.

It includes the seizure of 32 kilograms of heroin by authorities in Fiji in December 2014 and the seizure of 606 kilograms of cocaine by authorities in Tahiti in March.

Officers then observed the Dalrymple depart the Sydney Fish Markets on December 3 and travel to the Central Coast. The vessel was monitored by Maritime Border Command and the NSW Police’s Marine Area Command.

On Christmas night, officers watched the crew launch a small one-man dinghy which allegedly travelled to Parlsey Bay at Brooklyn on the NSW Central Coast and met with two other men.

All three were arrested and about 500 kilograms of cocaine was seized from the dinghy.

Several other men were arrested on board the Dalrymple vessel as it docked at Sydney Fish Market on Christmas night.

A police source told Fairfax Media the syndicate thought they could take advantage of the festive season by striking on Christmas Day.

Authorities valued the total amount of cocaine seized at $360 million.

Among the men arrested is former Eastern Suburbs Roosters player John Roland Boyd Tobin, who played 125 matches as lock forward in the 1980s.

Bondi entrepreneur Darren John Mohr was also arrested. He lists his occupation as the owner Martini Motors and is also the former owner of the Bondi Rescue HQ cafe.

His Instagram profile shows a love of Harley Davidson motorbikes, Rolls Royce cars and being shirtless.

Police also arrested Reuben John Dawe, who lists his occupation as a maritime worker and commercial fisherman Joseph Pirrello, 63.

Other man arrested in the sting include Simon Peter Spero, 56, Graham Toa Toa, 42, Stuart Ayrton, 54, Jonathan Cooper, 29, Richard Lipton, 37, Frank D’Agostino, 54, and Benjamin Sara, 31.

They were all refused bail in Parramatta Bail Court on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Two other men, extradited from Tasmania and Queensland, will appear in Parramatta Bail Court on Thursday as well as two men arrested in the Nowra area.

Footage released by police show multiple men being arrested in the dark from on-board the Dalrymple fishing vessel.

One of the men shown with his hands tied behind his back is wearing only a pair of boxer shorts covered in cartoon pictures of crocodiles.

“This operation has been running for more than two-and-a-half years and culminated over the Christmas period,” a police statement reads.

The men were aged between 29 and 63 years old.  Police are due to address the media at 11am on Thursday.

Sydney crime figure Pasquale Barbaro shot dead, Joe Antoun’s death caught on video


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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 was left for dead on a Sydney pavement. Image: Instagram
Nine people have now been charged over the 35-year-old’s death. Image: 7 News
Photo: NSW Police

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.

Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police

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.

Pasquale Barbaro pictured with Brothers for Life leader Farhad Qaumi. Source: 7 News
The shooting scene. Source: 7 News

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

Police forensice teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police forensics teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Pasquale Barbaro.

Pasquale Barbaro.


Who was Pasquale Barbaro?

Updated about 7 hours ago

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

Police investigation

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.”

‘Targeted attack’

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.

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his coulsin Pat Barbaro

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his cousin Pat Barbaro

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.

Asaad shooting

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.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

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.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

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


Bikie taskforce Echo raid Seabrook home in Melbourne’s west


 an hour ago

Bikie taskforce Echo police are currently executing warrants on a home in Melbourne’s west. Picture: Nicole Garmston

A SENIOR Mongol bikie has been arrested and a 3D printer seized during a raid in Melbourne’s west this morning.

Echo Taskforce detectives arrested two men and a woman, all with links to the Mongols OMCG, after raids in Seabrook and Oakleigh South earlier today.

A man arrested at the Seabrook property. Picture: Nicole Garmston
A woman is arrested during raids at the property. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Homes in Mintaro Way in Seabrook and Fleming Court in Oakleigh South were raided at 6am.

Ammunition, 3D printers, equipment for manufacturing firearms and a small amount of drugs were seized from the Seabrook property.

A 26-year-old Seabrook man and a 27-year-old Seabrook woman were arrested.

An allegedly stolen motorbike was seized from the Oakleigh South property and a 29-year-old man was arrested.

Middleton was bailed last month after he was arrested for drug and violence offences.

He was released with conditions a magistrate described as the “strictest she’s ever set”.

The 26-year-old’s partner Renee Comeadow was also arrested.

Evidence gathered in relation to bikies. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Police leave the scene with evidence. Picture: Nicole Garmston

Middleton was granted bail last month by magistrate Margaret Harding, who said he needed to be reunited with his family after five months on remand.

Ms Harding had wanted Middleton to hand in his bikie colours as a condition of bail, but backed away after she was told other bikies could threaten Middleton’s family because that was a “sign of disrespect”.

Police seized his Mongols vest this morning.

A police officer carrying a Mongols jacket leaves the scene. Picture: Nicole Garmston
Visitor outside the property. (black top)  Picture: Nicole Garmston

Middleton had told the magistrate he would not wear the club’s colours while on bail.

Other conditions included a $300,000 surety, daily reporting to police, a strict curfew, non association with witnesses and bikies.

Middleton, a father of a two-year-old, also promised to stay out of parts of Port Melbourne and Werribee as a condition of release.

Middleton and his partner Comeadow turned up at Sunshine Hospital at 8.15pm on November 1 last year after the OMCG member was shot in the knee.

Police arrived and searched Comeadow’s car where they allegedly found around 500 grams worth of ecstasy, a rubber gun grip and 4.2mm ammunition cartridges.

Middleton was charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of ecstasy and possession of ammunition.

Detective Senior Constable Andrew Broad, a member of the Echo Taskforce, told Melbourne Magistrates’ Court at the time that a search carried out at the couple’s home in Seabrook also resulted in officers finding a gun and a “substantial” amount of drugs.

Comeadow was charged with possessing a commercial quantity of ecstasy and storing ammunition after police searched her car at the hospital.

The search of the couple’s home allegedly uncovered a handgun and more drugs, the court heard.

Defence lawyer Sarah Pratt, representing Comeadow last year, said: “There is no allegation Ms Comeadow is in an OMCG.”

Police spokeswoman Melissa Seach said: “The warrant is part of an ongoing Echo Taskforce investigation in relation to perverting the course of justice.”

david.hurley@news.com.au

VISAS cancelled: Bikies protest at Federation Square

FEATURE: How we’re smashing outlaw bikie power

TARGETED: Outlaw bikie gangs feel heat

DRIVE-BY: Bikie war link to strip club shooting

SPECIAL: More outlaw bikie reports


 

Standover man and convicted killer Walid “Wally” Ahmad shot dead at Bankstown


“Despite extensive searches by detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, a 48-year-old, who is wanted by virtue of an arrest warrant, has not been found,’’ police said today.

A senior officer has told the Daily Telegraph that while Elmer could be hiding from police there is a possibility he has been killed.

Police said he may also be hiding for fear he may be targeted by associates of Walid Ahmad.

 

Police inspect the burnt-out remains of a vehicle used during the Ahmad shooting. Picture: Getty Images

 

SYDNEY’S escalating gangland war in the southwest may have claimed another victim with the disappearance of a man wanted for questioning over the murder of major crime figure Walid Ahmad.

Ahmad, 40, a Mr Big of Sydney crime, was shot dead as he sipped coffee at a rooftop cafe at Bankstown shopping centre. It’s believed it was payback for the shooting of Safwan Charbaji, 32, outside Ahmad’s business on April 9.

Fawaz Mohammed Elmir is wanted for his alleged involvement in the shooting at the smash repair shop and warrants have been issued for his arrest.

Elmir, who was at the smash repair yard and related through marriage to Mr Charbaji, has vanished.

Fawaz Mohammed Elmir.Source:Supplied

Walid Ahmad.Source:Channel 7

 

“Despite extensive searches by detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, a 48-year-old, who is wanted by virtue of an arrest warrant, has not been found,’’ police said today.

A senior officer has told the Daily Telegraph that while Elmer could be hiding from police there is a possibility he has been killed.

Police said he may also be hiding for fear he may be targeted by associates of Walid Ahmad.

Originally published as Man wanted over gangland shooting disappears

Police are investigating a shooting in Sydney’s south-west that left one man dead and two people injured.

MOMENTS before shots rang out at a Bankstown shopping centre this morning, a man rushed into a shop inside screaming, “There’s not enough f***ing time”.

Standover man and convicted killer Walid “Wally” Ahmad was shot dead and two others were injured at the centre when an unknown person opened fire inside Bankstown Central, in Sydney’s southwest, just before noon.

Police are now hunting two people over the attack, a man who opened fire and another who drove a getaway car.

A 32-year-old woman, believed to be friends with Ahmad, is recovering in hospital alongside Ahmad’s bodyguard, a 53-year-old man.

A woman working in a cosmetics store inside the centre told news.com.au that a man and a woman rushed into the shop moments before the shooting.

“Where’s store security? Where’s store security? Can you call them?” the distressed woman said.

She banged her hand on the counter, saying “call them, call them!”

But the man said: “There’s not enough f***ing time.”

The pair then ran towards an escalator, which leads to the third-level gym, cafe and carpark, where the shooting occurred.

It is not known who the people were or if they were hurt in the shooting.

Shooting victim Walid “Wally” Ahmad.

‘IT’S CLEARLY TARGETED’

Bankstown police commander Detective Superintendent David Eardley confirmed a 40-year-old man is dead and two others were injured in the shooting.

Police believe the gunman did not act alone and a burnt-out white Mercedes connected to the crime has been found in Greenacre.

While police have not confirmed the identity of the victim, he said police would also be looking at the connection with another shooting at Condell Park earlier this month.

“It’s clearly targeted; this is not a random shooting,” Det Supt Eardley said.

“People need to understand and feel safe to go about the streets and their daily lives.”

He also urged those connected to the crime not to take matters into their own hands.

“Leave it to us to investigate … there is no need to resort to any activity that would jeopardise themselves or others.”

A burnt-out Mercedes car that was found shortly after a shooting in Bankstown. Picture Craig Greenhill

‘COME GET ME! HE’S DEAD!’

The niece of the victim Walid “Wally” Ahmad told news.com.au: “It’s my uncle. He’s the victim.”

The woman was at a family gathering at a home nearby when she received a phone call that her uncle had been shot.

She said she received a panicked call from Ahmad’s daughter, her cousin, as she raced to the Bankstown Central shopping centre.

“She said, ‘Come get me! He’s dead! He’s dead!’” the shocked niece told news.com.au

“I need to get to her. She’s all by herself, she’s alone.

When asked who may have targeted Ahmad, the niece said: “I don’t know. The most important thing is finding my cousin.”

Later, news.com.au witnessed the niece and the daughter hug as they were reunited.

The shopping centre’s management ushered family members to a nearby coffee house, where more than a dozen police officers were gathered.

An elderly woman, believed to be the mother of the victim, was seen slumped in a wheelchair, quivering, with her hands covering her face.

The family were agitated as they left the area, demanding that no pictures be taken.

One of the victims of the Bankstown Centro Shopping Centre shooting being loaded into an ambulance. Picture: Channel 10 / Twitter

MISTAKEN IDENTITY?

Today’s shooting took place at a major shopping centre, formerly known as Bankstown Centro, on the corner of Stacey St and Rickard Rd, in Sydney’s southwest.

Witnesses told news.com.au that the shooting happened in the centre carpark outside Michael’s Coffee House, near Crunch Fitness gym and Rebel Sports store.

People who parked close to the scene have been told by police they could not move their cars, and some have resorted to taking the bus home.

Early reports said a man aged about 40 went into cardiac arrest. The body is believed to still be at the scene.

It is understood two people have been detained at the scene, including an unidentified, handcuffed man pictured. Police told news.com.au that nobody had been formally arrested.

A Bankstown resident working at the shopping centre, who asked not to be named, told AAP that “police arrested the wrong people to start with”.

He said a Mercedes was stopped and searched by police on the corner of Jacobs St and Rickard Rd, but police failed to find a weapon.

“It happened in front of us,” he said. “They handcuffed the wrong person.” He said police found the right car, a black four-wheel drive, at the rooftop car park near the gym.

A man is detained at the scene. Picture: TNV

Police have warned drivers to avoid the area around the centre because of traffic delays.

“There were a couple of screams and you just wondered if they were kids or something,” Mr Davis said.

“It was surreal really.

“I suppose I’m feeling really fortunate that I wasn’t there (at the tome of the escalator).”

STANDOVER MAN

The victim is a known standover man with a previous manslaughter conviction.

It is believed Ahmad is connected to a fatal shooting at smash repair business, A Team Smash Repair, where one man, Safwan Chabaji , was shot dead in April in Condell Park.

The Daily Telegraph is reporting that he has been on the run since the fatal shooting.

Mr Ahmad was previously convicted of the 2002 killing of Mayez Dany in Greenacre.

A woman was taken to hospital after a shooting at a Bankstown shopping centre. Picture: Channel 9

Officers were called to the shopping centre about 11.50am after reports of a shooting. There were unconfirmed reports of eight shots being fired in the carpark.

A witness having coffee outside a nearby cafe said she heard the commotion and everybody got up and started walking away.

A Channel 7 video shows one of the victims being asked whether he was OK as he was being wheeled away on a stretcher.

When asked what happened, the victim said: “Firework”.

Shooting at Bankstown shopping centre. Picture: TNV

The previous shooting at the smash repair business left one man, Safwan Charbaji, 32, dead with gunshot wound to the chest. Another, Abdullah El Masri, 35, was left in a critical condition after being shot in the face. He remains in an induced coma.

The shooting happened on the afternoon of April 9 in Condell Park, a suburb of Bankstown.

Witnesses reported hearing an argument before a number of shots were fired.

At the time, authorities said the men were known to police.

“We believe that the people did know each other,” a police spokesman told media on Saturday, adding that it was unclear whether the men were shot by a third party.

“It’s quite possible that a meeting has taken place.”

A man is being taken to hospital on a stretcher after a shooting at Bankstown. Picture: Channel 9

A local shop worker told news.com.au Ahmad was one of her “favourite customers.”

“When I had first met Walid he had recently been out of jail,” she said.

“But he was always a sweet man, had brought in his little girl and his wife a few times.

“Could never say no to the lollies she’d want to buy.

“Anyway I understand people are different, but I only had an employee-customer relationship with him.

“I’m sure his wife is very heartbroken though.”

At least six ambulances and a dozen police cars were at the scene and television footage showed paramedics putting a man on a stretcher.

Police said they arrived to find two men and a woman injured; one of the men died at the scene.

A crime scene has been established, which will be examined by detectives and forensic specialists.

The shopping centre car park has been closed as a precaution.

Anyone with information that could assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


Man shot dead outside Sydney shopping centre

Fri 29 Apr 2016, 3:52pm

A gunman is at large after a “targeted” shooting in Sydney’s south-west that has left one man dead and two other people injured.

  • A 40-year-old man is dead after shooting at Bankstown Central Shopping Centre
  • A man and a woman who were injured have been taken to hospital
  • Police say the shooting was targeted and the gunman did not act alone

Emergency crews were called to the car park of Bankstown Central Shopping Centre on Rickard Road just before midday.

On arrival police found three injured people – two men and a woman. A 40-year-old man died of his injuries at the scene.

A 60-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman were treated by paramedics for wounds to their lower legs before being taken to hospital.

Detective Superintendent David Eardley said the shooting was targeted.

“This isn’t a random shooting, it was clearly targeted to the man who has died of gunshot wounds,” he said.

“I can assure the Bankstown and neighbouring communities not to be concerned about this incident.

“You will see a large number of police resources around the Bankstown area. That’s purely a proactive stance by us to again provide some reassurance to the community that it is safe.”

Detective Superintendent Eardley said he was unaware of any arrests so far, but there was evidence the gunman did not act alone.

“We had information of a white Mercedes vehicle being used and I can confirm that vehicle has been located burned-out in the Greenacre area,” he said.

He urged anyone associated with the incident not to take matters into their own hands.

“Leave it to us to investigate and leave it to us to identify the people involved. We will put them before the courts, they will be dealt with under our law,” he said.

“There is no need to revert to any type of action that will jeopardise their family and the public.”

Detective Superintendent Eardley said the incident could be connected with a fatal shooting at nearby Condell Park earlier in April.

“We’re certainly not ruling out any links. We’re looking at all opportunities and all avenues of investigation. Certainly there has been a shooting in this area, in the Condell Park area,” he said.

“That is subject to Strike Force Admiralty. Those detectives will be reviewing the incident today and see if they can identify any linkages.”

The shopping centre car park has been closed as a precaution and drivers have been asked to avoid the area.

Fatema Islam was in the shopping centre car park when the shooting happened.

She said she initially thought the gunshot sounds may have been someone dropping something at the nearby gym.

“I looked back and there was nothing, and then suddenly one lady came running and crying and saying ‘oh there’s a gunshot, there’s a gunshot’. And I just freaked out,” she said.

“I looked back, but there was nothing, no car was there, no person or nothing.

“I didn’t see any dead body or nothing. When I went inside [the shopping centre], at that time, all the police and everyone came.”

Bankstown resident Bessy Axiotis said she did not feel safe shopping at the centre.

“[It’s] very sad, because there’s children around, there’s families. It’s a very busy time,” she said.

“I came up and at that time that’s when everyone was screaming and running around. I didn’t actually see what happened, but it was just chaotic.

“Everyone was running, everyone just ran back in and then the police came.

“I shop here all the time, but now you think ‘OK, I’ve got to shop somewhere else now, because Bankstown isn’t safe’. It’s very upsetting.”

The Great Bookie Robbery took place in 1976


Defence barrister Philip Dunn on Australia’s most notorious robbery

The Victoria Club in Queen Street where the Great Bookie Robbery took place in 1976.

Olivia Lambert news.com.au

IT WAS a crime of greed, maybe even one of revenge.

But it was one that was planned for months and pulled off so meticulously, nobody was ever convicted.

The Great Bookie Robbery is one of Australia’s most notorious crimes, where six bandits filled totes with millions of dollars in just minutes. It was even the basis for a 1986 television miniseries.

Still nobody knows what happened. The money was never found and the thieves either disappeared or were killed.

The closest this crime got to being solved was the arrest of bandit Norman Lee, the only gang member to face court over the robbery — but he was acquitted.

It’s been 40 years since the brazen crime and Lee’s solicitor at the time, defence barrister Philip Dunn, QC, reveals what he knows, what questions still remain and his sneaking regard for their bold heist.

THE CRIME

It was autumn in Melbourne, April 1976. The city was no doubt windy and cold with amber leaves cluttering the gutters.

Six men gathered a couple of weeks before Easter and plotted to steal from bookies who were sorting money to give to punters.

“The men who executed it were not only experts in their particular trades, but brave and bold in what they did,” Mr Dunn said.

It was in the days when bookmakers did all their business in cash at the Victoria Club on Queen Street. Bookies would secure their money on the third floor of the Victoria Club before it was picked up by the National Bank. It was a prime opportunity to steal.

In the weeks prior to the robbery, one of the bandits bypassed the club’s security system and removed a number of bolts from the fire escape access door.

He cut them in half and lightly glued them back together, so the bandits could just push the door to gain entry to the building later on.

Six weeks prior to the robbery, they tampered with the elevators so they would continuously jam and get stuck between floors.

Nobody would be able to go up or down the lift while these men committed their third-floor robbery.

It was April 21, the day they finally pulled off the heist.

They hid while waiting for the Armaguard truck to deliver the cash to the building.

“The truck actually got a flat tyre on the way and they were 15 minutes late,” Mr Dunn said. “The bandits were actually very bold and brave because they were waiting, ready to go, and the truck didn’t come.”

Once the money was delivered, the bandits stormed the building. They were masked and some were armed with M60 machine-guns.

A scene from a TV miniseries based on the robbery.

A scene from a TV miniseries based on the robbery.Source:Supplied

“They made a lot of noise and made people lie on the floor, there were more than 100 people in the building when they raided it,” Mr Dunn said.

“There was little conversation but there was one thing said that gave people a clue about who they were.”

Among the hostages was prize fighter Ambrose Palmer and while the bandits were yelling at everybody to get down, one turned to Palmer and said “that means you Ambrose”.

“That meant the bandit was either from Melbourne or he was a person who went to the fights,” Mr Dunn said.

In less than 10 minutes they had escaped with millions of dollars.

The exact amount stolen was never known, but it has been said it could have been as much as $15 million.

Lee was the only person arrested after he used new bank notes that had only been delivered to the bookie club.

In the end, however, there wasn’t enough evidence and police could not prove a link between the robbery and the fact Lee was in possession of the notes.

“It didn’t mean he did it, it just meant he had the money,” Mr Dunn said. “He was pretty bold, when police went to the dim sim factory where he worked they wanted to look at the safe but he refused.

“The police got a safe cracker and cut it open and when they opened it nothing was inside. He was just one of those blokes who didn’t want to help.”

Police display guns used in the robbery at Victorian Club, Queen Street.

Police display guns used in the robbery at Victorian Club, Queen Street.Source:News Limited

THE RUMOURS

Nobody quite knows how the gang, Raymond “Chuck” Bennett, Norman Lee, Ian Carroll, Laurence Prendergast and Brian and Leslie Kane, smuggled the money out of the Victoria Club.

Mr Dunn said he heard two stories about what happened to the millions.

“One is that money was removed in a laundry van,” he said. “The other, I heard they actually rented another office in the building and moved the money upstairs and left it there for several weeks, but who knows? They were smart guys.”

Despite defending Lee during his court case, Mr Dunn said he was airtight about what happened.

“Norman Lee wouldn’t have told a priest in confession what happened,” he said. “That’s how it was in those days.”

Lee’s parents made dim sims and spring rolls and there was a rumour among those in the underworld that several people who went missing, were put through Lee’s dim sim machine and later eaten by those who attended the footy.

“That’s part of the rumour mill in Melbourne’s underworld,” Mr Dunn said.

Over the years there have also been many rumours about what the gang did with the money they stole.

“Some said a couple of bandits went to Manila and opened up some bars there,” he said. “Others believed some of the money was wisely invested.”

Norman Leung Lee, a member of the gang who committed the Great Bookie Robbery. Picture: Kaine Pinder

Norman Leung Lee, a member of the gang who committed the Great Bookie Robbery. Picture: Kaine Pinder Source:News Limited

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Lee was shot dead in another brazen robbery at Tullamarine airport in Melbourne in 1992.

He was trying to intercept millions of dollars being transported. He was killed by police during a shootout.

Leslie was allegedly killed in 1978 by Bennett, the mastermind behind the Great Bookie Robbery. Bennett was accused, but later acquitted.

Bennett was then believed to have been shot by Leslie’s brother Brian — the other Kane bandit involved in the bookie robbery — in 1979 outside a Melbourne courthouse.

Brian was shot by two masked men while at his local drinking spot, the Quarry Hotel, in 1982. Carroll was also shot dead in 1983.

Nobody knows what happened to Prendergast, he went missing in 1985 and has never been found.

“He could be an old man now sitting in front of a radiator in winter having chicken soup,” Mr Dunn said. “There are few people who can reminisce about the good old days.”

Ian Carroll, believed to have taken part in the Great Bookie Robbery, was murdered in 1983.

Ian Carroll, believed to have taken part in the Great Bookie Robbery, was murdered in 1983.Source:News Limited

Brian Kane was shot dead by two masked men at the Quarry Hotel.

Brian Kane was shot dead by two masked men at the Quarry Hotel.Source:News Limited

‘THEY PLANNED IT LIKE A HEIST MOVIE’

“Those were the days when crime was crime,” Mr Dunn said. “They were bandits and not drug addicts.”

As an older criminal barrister, Mr Dunn said he looked at those days and in a funny way, had a sneaking regard for those old-fashioned villains who didn’t just rely on drugs or guns.

“They plotted and planned their activity like a heist movie.”

Being one of the most notorious crimes in Australia’s history, Mr Dunn said nobody had come close to pulling off something of the same scale. But he said it was a lot harder to catch crims back then.

“In those days the underworld had a code of silence,” he said. “These days, drug addicts will snitch on one another as soon as a policeman says boo.

“Law enforcement also uses a variety of modern technology now to track people’s movements and find out what they are doing. That was never possible 40 years ago.”

Despite being Lee’s solicitor, Mr Dunn said he doesn’t really remember him as a person.

“I remember him as an old-fashioned crim who wouldn’t betray anybody and wouldn’t say much of anything to anybody and lived in code of the underworld as it then was,” he said.

Defence Barrister Philip Dunn, QC, represented Norman Lee during the Great Bookie Robbery trial. Picture: Rob Baird

Defence Barrister Philip Dunn, QC, represented Norman Lee during the Great Bookie Robbery trial. Picture: Rob Baird Source:News Limited


Bodies of Cory Breton, 28, and Iuliana Triscaru, 31, found inside metal box pulled from Logan dam


au.news.yahoo.com

Two bodies found in ‘large metal box’ following disappearance of Cory Breton and Iuliana Triscaru

Two bodies have been found inside a “large metal box” in a dam in Brisbane’s south during the search for missing Logan pair Cory Breton and Iuliana Triscaru.

A police spokesman wouldn’t confirm if bodies had been found however he said police had been searching for a steel box about 2m x 5m, which had since been found at a Kingston address.

At a press conference earlier today Detective Supt Dave Hutchinson stated: “We have located just after 8am this morning a large metal box submerged in one of the dams.“

“We’re still in the process of removing that box. It’s still in the dam at this point so we haven’t been able to open the box however we do fear that the box will contain the bodies of the two missing persons.”

The “large metal box” has since been removed by police. Source: 7 News.
Cory Breton and Iuliana Triscaru have been missing for two and a half weeks.

A large scale police search has been under-way today at Mudgee st, Kingston near Scrubby Creek for the missing two.

The remains will be subject to post-mortem examinations and positive identification.

The huge search efforts have continued today. Source: 7 News.

Six people have been charged with murder following an investigation into the disappearance the two.

Two men and a woman charged with murder made a brief appearance in court this morning.

Lawyers for Webbstar Latu, 31, Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata, 21, and Ngatokoona Mareti, 36, described them as ‘associates’ and not friends during court.

Mareti’s lawyer said she was ‘devastated and shocked’.

A 24-year-old Logan Central man, another 21-year-old man and a 22-year-old man of no fixed address have also been charged with two counts of murder.

The lawyer for one of the people charged, a 36-year-old woman, said she has seven children.

Overnight four people assisted police following the mysterious disappearance of the south east Queensland pair.

Two men were arrested after police intercepted a vehicle on the Gateway Motorway at Belmont just before 5pm yesterday.

Police allegedly located a quantity of methylamphetamine during a search of the vehicle.

A spokesman said the three were assisting police with their inquiries into the disappearance of Breton, 28, and Triscaru, 31.

The two had been missing for more than two weeks.

A search operation conducted by specialist police will be continuing today at a location off Mudgee Street, Kingston.

Detectives also spoke with 23-year-old Lelan Harrington, who was reported missing on January 25, one day after his friends vanished.

Initially police were searching for all three, however Mr Harrington was found safe at a Logan home on Tuesday.

Two crime scenes had been set up in the suburb of Kingston, including one at Mr Harrington’s home.

Logan pair Cory Breton, 28, and mother-of-three Iuliana Triscaru, 31. Photo: Queensland Police.

On Wednesday, police divers and helicopters searched bushland but failed to locate any traces of the missing pair.

Police were also seeking dashcam video from the Cleveland ferry terminal carpark between January 24-26.

A silver Mitsubishi Pajero which belonged to Mr Breton was found in the carpark after he disappeared.

Mr Breton reportedly discussed going on a holiday to Stradbroke Island before he vanished.

$3000 was also withdrawn from his bank account before he disappeared, according to police.

Police have released the image of a vehicle they suspect was involved in the crime. Source: QPS media.

Police have appealed for information in relation to this investigation and are seeking public assistance in relation to the movements of a dark green 1999 Toyota Hilux utility, Queensland Registration 684 VEP on the evening of 24 January 2016.

Ms Triscaru’s mother, told media on Tuesday her daughter was ‘a very good girl and a very good mum’.

“I’d be happy with just one call saying ‘Mama, I’m still alive’. That’s it,” she said.

Mr Breton’s partner, Miranda, also told media she had a ‘gut feeling’ and it was ‘not very good’.

In a statement released to 7 News the family stated: “Iuliana Triscaru was kind hearted and generous. Always smiling, she had a positive attitude towards life and loved her children more than anything. To know that she is no longer in life because she was murdered is extremely shocking, disturbing and very sad.”


 

The bodies of two people have been found locked in a large metal box that had been submerged in a dam at Kingston, south of Brisbane.

Police believe the bodies to be those of Cory Breton, 28, and Iuliana Triscaru, 31, who were reported missing last month.

The box was taken to Brisbane’s John Tonge Centre for forensic examination and found to contain the remains of two people.

Post mortems are being carried out to identify the pair.

A third person who had been reported missing, Lelan Harrington, was found alive on Tuesday.

The trio’s disappearance, and the motive behind the suspected murder of Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru, was “probably” drug related, police said.

Six people charged with two counts of murder

Six people – five men and one woman – were charged with murder on Wednesday night following an investigation into the pair’s disappearance.

Davy Malu Junion Taiao, Stou Daniels, Trent Michael Thrupp, all 22, Webbstar Latu, 31, Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata, 24, and 36-year-old Ngatokoona Maretti all face two counts of murder.

They were remanded in custody during a hearing at Brisbane Magistrates Court and will face court next month.

Lawyer Andrew Owens, who is representing Maretti, said she was a mother of seven and desperate to get back to her children.

Mr Owens said he did think Maretti knew the victims but was yet to receive formal instructions.

“I don’t think friends but more associates, but it’s really early days to see what her involvement is really,” he said.

He said his client was in shock but would fight the charges and apply for bail at a later stage.

Police looking for two more people

Detective Superintendent Dave Hutchinson said police were still looking for two other people as part of the investigation but they were not suspects.

“One is a 32-year-old male from Crestmead and the other is a 25-year-old male who was residing at the Dewer Street unit,” he said.

“We are looking for these people to speak with them – we believe they can assist us with our enquiries.

“We would encourage them to come in and speak with us now.

“Circumstances have changed, a number of people are in custody and we would ask those people to come forward and speak with the police.

“The motive is something we’re still looking at but we suspect that it probably will be drug related.”

Photo: Police at the dam site on vacant land around Mudgee Street at Kingston, south of Brisbane. (ABC News: Nick Castellaro)


Reports of two bodies found as police search for missing Logan pair

Iuliana Triscaru and Cory Breton went missing in the Logan area in January. Picture: Queensland Police Service

Lauren McMah with AAP

UPDATE: TWO bodies have been found in a metal box that was sunk in a dam south of Brisbane.

The two bodies are yet to be identified but police fear they are the remains of Cory Breton, 28, and Iulian Triscaru, 31, who have been missing since January 24.

Police made the grim discovery in the Logan suburb of Kingston, behind an equipment hire property near Scrubby Creek.

Detective Superintendent Dave Hutchinson said police were still establishing a motive for the suspected murders.

“The motive is something we’re still looking at. We suspect that it probably will be drug-related,” he said.

Police use a crane to retrieve the metal box. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Police use a crane to retrieve the metal box. Picture: AAP Image/Dan PeledSource:AAP

The discovery of the 2m-long box, believed to contain the remains of Mr Breton, 28, and mother-of-three Ms Triscaru, 31, came just hours after police charged six people with their murders.

Two of those people were arrested after armed police intercepted their BMW on Gateway Motorway at Belmont, southeast of Brisbane, before 5pm Wednesday.

Police charged six people — five men and one woman — with two counts of murder. They are Davy Malu Junior Taiao, 21, Stou Daniels, 21, Trent Michael Thrupp, 22, Webbstar Latu, 31, Tuhirangi-Thomas Tahiata, 24 and Ngatokoona Maretti, 36.

Police load the metal box into a van after pulling it out of the dam. Picture: AAP Image/Dan Peled

Police load the metal box into a van after pulling it out of the dam. Picture: AAP Image/Dan PeledSource:AAP

The Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday morning remanded all six people in custody. They will next face court on March 21.

Lawyer Alan Phillips, who represented three of the accused, said it was too early to comment when approached by waiting media outside court.

Detectives are still searching for two men, aged 32 and 25, who they want to question over the pair’s suspected murders.

Police are also looking for a 1999 Toyota HiLux ute they believe was used to transport the box, and two fluorescent yellow ratchet straps used to tie it down.

Supt Hutchinson said the family of Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru were “devastated”.

“This is something that has occurred very quickly, obviously it’s just evolved over the last couple of nights, and how the realisation will be hitting everybody of what has occurred.”

He said detectives have worked 24 hours a day on the case.

Earlier, police set up two crime scenes in the Logan suburb of Kingston, including at the home of 23-year-old Lelan Harrington, who had disappeared along with Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru but was found safe and well on Tuesday.

Police said Mr Breton and Ms Triscaru have been missing since January 24.

On Wednesday, police divers, dogs and a helicopter scoured dams, a creek and bushland around the site but failed to discover any trace of the missing pair.

Concerned neighbours near the bushland said their children often went swimming in the dams that surrounded their property.

“We’ve lived here for 30 years and we have never seen anything like this,” Janina Poom told the Courier Mail.

“We’re at the end of the street so we get a lot of hoons and the like, but that’s about it.”

Mr Breton’s partner Miranda (left) and Triscaru’s mother Victoria speak to the media at Logan police headquarters on Tuesday. Picture: AAP Image/Ed Jackson

Mr Breton’s partner Miranda (left) and Triscaru’s mother Victoria speak to the media at Logan police headquarters on Tuesday. Picture: AAP Image/Ed JacksonSource:AAP

A silver Mitsubishi Pajero belonging to Mr Breton was discovered in the carpark of the Cleveland ferry terminal following his disappearance.

He had reportedly discussed going on holiday to Stradbroke Island before he went missing.

He also withdrew $3000 just days before his disappearance, police said.

Ms Triscaru’s mother, Victoria, fronted the media on Tuesday in a public appeal for help to find her daughter.

“I miss her. She’s a very good girl and a very good mum,” she said. “The kids ask me all the time, ‘Where Mummy, where Mummy?’

“I’d be happy with just one call saying, ‘Mama, I’m still alive.’ That’s it.”

Mr Breton’s partner, Miranda, has told reporters of her fears. “Unfortunately, my gut feeling is not very good,” she said.

“Nothing adds up … it’s like a big puzzle that’s missing a lot of pieces.”

Police officers establish a crime scene near bushland in Kingston, south of Brisbane, as the search continues.

Police officers establish a crime scene near bushland in Kingston, south of Brisbane, as the search continues.Source:AAP

Miranda said Cory had dropped her at the airport as she headed to Newcastle in NSW to visit family. “That was the last time we spoke,” she said.

“He seemed in good spirits. He was talking about starting work with a mate of his that I know who runs a company in trade work of some description.

“I’ve got a million and one scenarios running through my mind as to what may have happened but I just want to know that he’s OK.

“It’s breaking us all that he’s missing — we’ve got a three-year-old daughter who is wondering where he is.

“He didn’t seem to be in trouble.”

Supt Hutchison said on Tuesday: “It’s every possibility they could be in fear for some unknown reason and have gone into hiding.

“There has been suggestion that some of them have decided to start a new life.

“All these are rumours.”

Police establish two crime scenes in search for missing Logan duo. Video: 7 News Queensland


 

WA Police seize biggest-ever meth haul – ‘hundreds of kilos’


It’s the biggest drug bust in Western Australian history, 321 kilograms of methamphetamine allegedly destined for sale on WA streets.

WA Police’s biggest-ever drug bust has seized 321 kilograms of the drug, mostly concealed in Chinese tea packaging, along with more than $1.4 million in cash.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan confirmed that the drugs, which would have yielded about 3.2 million ‘hits’ and fetched hundreds of millions on the street, were seized as the result of a continuing operation between state and federal police and the Australian Crime Commission.

The haul is the largest seizure of methamphetamine in WA history.The haul is the largest seizure of methamphetamine in WA history. Photo: WA Police

He called the haul a “hammer blow” to the organised criminal syndicate “peddling this misery” in WA.

Mr Keenan joined WA Police acting commissioner Gary Dreibergs and other officials in Perth on Thursday to reveal the bust and congratulate the officers involved.

Police have charged four Hong Kong nationals, three of whom are in the country illegally and one on a visitors’ visa, ACC chief executive Chris Dawson confirmed.

Police claims the methamphetamine haul has a street value of $320 million.Police claims the methamphetamine haul has a street value of $320 million. Photo: WA Police

On Tuesday after stopping a car in Willetton and arresting the 18-year-old driver, they searched a Canning Vale home and seized 316 kilograms of meth concealed in Chinese tea packaging inside 10 suitcases, WA Police acting deputy commissioner Michelle Fyfe said.

Following an arrest of the 19-year-old occupant, they were led to search an Adelaide Terrace apartment in Perth’s CBD and a Hay Street hotel room, where they seized another 43 grams and 4.9 kilograms of ice respectively and arrested another two men, aged 21 and 26, she said.

She said it was “frightening” to imagine that this quantity of ice was destined to be used by members of the community.

More than a million dollars cash was seized along with the record-breaking meth bust.More than a million dollars cash was seized along with the record-breaking meth bust.

The men have each been charged with possession of illicit drugs with intent to sell or supply and possession of stolen or unlawfully obtained property. They all appeared on Wednesday at Perth Magistrates Court and were remanded in custody.

Mr Dawson said intelligence informing the local investigation came through the ACC-led Eligo National Task Force, which had been tracking organised criminals cash flows for about two years.

The task force, comprising the ACC, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, other federal agencies, federal police and state and territory police forces, was part of a “global attack” on organised crime syndicates in South East Asia.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Gary Dreibergs, WA Police Minister Liza Harvey and Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan (from left) revealed the details of the bust.Acting Deputy Commissioner Gary Dreibergs, WA Police Minister Liza Harvey and Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan (from left) revealed the details of the bust.

The investigation was continuing and the team would work with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Acting commissioner Dreibergs said the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Drug Use Monitoring in Australia project, plus waste-water analysis, were showing increasing methamphetamine use in the community.

“It affects the behaviour of offenders which makes it even more concerning for our officers. You see the community damage and the risk of violent behaviour that comes with it,” he said.

The huge haul illustrates the extent of the methamphetamine problem.The huge haul illustrates the extent of the methamphetamine problem.

“[This] puts our officers at risk more than ever … when I was an officer in my young days you didn’t have people impacted by methamphetamine, and more violent and unpredictable than they would normally be.

“People are making a massive amount of money … people who are very organised in this space.

“This is the old supply and demand story. You’ve got demand, people are going to fill that with supply like any other business.”

Acting WA Police commissioner Gary Dreibergs will make an announcement on the massive drug haul alongside other agencies involved.Acting WA Police commissioner Gary Dreibergs will make an announcement on the massive drug haul alongside other agencies involved.

Minister Keenan agreed there would always be ice entering Australia and so prevention and education were critical.

He said the National Ice Taskforce, led by former Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay, was advising the government on how to improve education in the community, reduce demand and improve the health response at a national level.

The taskforce represents an increasing political focus on ice use in Australia and an evolution from looking at it as purely a police matter.

In March, the ACC published The Australian Methylamphetamine Market: The National Picture, the first comprehensive national snapshot of ice and the role organised crime plays in its distribution, to inform the national response.

In April, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the establishment of the National Ice Taskforce, entrusted with developing a National Ice Action Strategy including education and health responses as well as law enforcement.

Mr Lay and fellow taskforce members Sally McCarthy and Richard Murray spent eight weeks travelling Australia to hear first-hand from people dealing with the impacts of ice in communities, with a particular focus on regional Australia.

They received more than 1300 submissions, held seven community consultations and spoke to experts in drug treatment, health care, education, research and law enforcement.

Federal MPs also held community consultations to contribute to this body of information.

On July 23, Mr Abbott presented the National Ice Taskforce interim report to the Council of Australian Governments outlining the six priority areas for the national strategy.

The strategy is due to be finalised by the end of the year.

A Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement is simultaneously at work, focusing purely on the law enforcement response to the ice problem in Australia.


 

‘Largest ever WA ice bust’ nets $320 million worth of meth, more than $1 million cash

Police in Perth have confiscated 320 kilograms of methamphetamine worth $320 million, as well as $1.2 million in cash, in what has been described as WA’s largest ever ice seizure.

The drugs were seized in a joint operation yesterday between WA Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

This seizure is a hammer blow for the organised criminals who peddle in ice.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan

Arrest warrants were executed at three residences, in Canning Vale and the Perth CBD.

Most of the drugs, about 316 kilograms, were found hidden in packages of Chinese tea at a house in Canning Vale.

An apartment on Adelaide Terrace and a hotel on Hay Street in the city were also raided.

Four Hong Kong nationals, ranging in age from 19 to 26, have been charged over the seizure.

Three of those men are believed to have been in Australia illegally, the fourth was on a visa.

The four men have already appeared in court and were remanded in custody.

Haul a ‘hammer blow’ to criminals, Keenan says

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said it was a significant haul.

“This latest seizure, this largest seizure in Western Australian history, is an example of the dividends that are being paid by the unprecedented cooperation between Commonwealth and state law enforcement,” he said.

“They have taken at least 320 kilograms of this terrible drug off the streets. That would have equated to 3.2 million individual hits of ice, with a street value of upwards of $320 million.

“This seizure is a hammer blow for the organised criminals who peddle in ice.”

Police said they feared what could have happened if the drugs had not been confiscated.

“[It] can only be described as frightening that this was going to hit our streets, this was going to be taken by members of our community,” WA Police acting deputy commissioner Michelle Fyfe said.

WA Police Minister Liza Harvey said the operation would put a significant dent in the ice market.

“I cannot tell you the impact that will have on the families, and the relatives and the friends of the meth addicts who wreak havoc on our community,” she said.

String of drug busts

This is the third major methamphetamine bust in the state in the past couple of months.

In August, police arrested three men and impounded a yacht off Western Australia’s north-west coast after seizing more than 20 kilograms of methamphetamine from a unit in Perth.

Officers from the Australian Federal Police and Organised Crime Squad seized the drug — also known as ice — and almost $1 million from the Perth unit as part of a National Anti-Gang Squad operation.

They also found 11 guns, including a sawn-off shotgun and a homemade machine gun.

In July, methamphetamine with a street value of $21 million was seized along with $100,000 cash.

Five people from WA, Queensland and New South Wales were charged over the seizure in the northern Perth suburb of Karrinyup.


 

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