Six charged over international drug ring

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Six Sydney men have been charged and millions of dollars in cash and drugs seized after a multi-agency police investigation into an international drug ring.

In 2021, detectives from NSW Police’s State Crime Command, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) set up Operation Phobetor to target and disrupt serious organized crime in New South Wales.

NSW Police say investigators have identified several transnational organized crime networks (OCNs) working in collaboration to import illicit drugs from multiple countries into NSW.

They intercepted and seized approximately 220 kg of methylamphetamine in Los Angeles, bound for Australia, approximately 60 kg of cocaine in a Sydney freight depot concealed inside machinery, and $960,000 in cash.

At dawn on Wednesday, police raided 16 properties across Sydney, seizing more than $1.2 million in cash, a gun, ammunition, gold bars, cigarettes, cocaine, MDMA , cannabis, steroids, electronic devices, cryptocurrency wallets and documents.

Five men – aged 30, 33, 38, 41 and 44 – were arrested during the operation and face numerous charges including supplying a commercial quantity of a banned drug and trafficking in knowledge of the proceeds of crime.

Two other men – aged 28 and 32 – were arrested at 8.30am in Bankstown during a vehicle stop, with police seizing a further $1.4million.

The 28-year-old was charged with involvement in the distribution and collection of drugs while the 32-year-old was released pending further investigation.

Meanwhile, United States Homeland Security Investigations agents arrested a 23-year-old man in Los Angeles after seizing 128 kg of methylamphetamine, 55 kg of MDMA crystal, 18 kg of cocaine and approximately US$15,000 ( $22,345 A).

Detective Superintendent Peter Faux, commander of the NSW Police Organized Crime Squad, said co-crime between criminal syndicates was becoming more prevalent.

“Organized crime networks are generally notoriously competitive in controlling drug trafficking,” he said on Thursday.

“However, what we have seen through this operation and other intelligence is that some OCN members are working in collaboration to bring drugs into our country,” he said.

“Although the various methods of concealment are not new, it is the level of involvement of various criminal syndicates in bringing in shipments that is noteworthy.”

AFP Commander Kate Ferry said the operation was an example of law enforcement at its best.

“These criminals undermine our national security and our economy. They make our suburbs and our roads less safe,” she said.

“The way Australians live will be changed if illicit drug use is not drastically reduced and these serious criminals are not brought to justice.”

Investigations are continuing.

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