Eight people were arrested in Sydney and one in Dubai for conspiring to illegally import drugs and tobacco into Australia. This is part of the JOCGs efforts to eliminate high-level organised crime syndicates
The Joint Organised Crime Group-JOCG is a joint action group with members from Australian Federal Police (AFP), NSW Police Force (NSWPF), Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC).
Operation Astatine focused on a NSW-based criminal network involved in drug trafficking and tobacco smuggling. This group is alleged to be behind the conspiracy to import 200 kilograms of MDMA via sea cargo and smuggling 50 million cigarettes into Australia. This group is also reported to be engaged in money laundering activities.
In a controlled delivery to an address in Rosebery, 52-year-old Queensland man was arrested for allegedly transporting and accessing the substance. JOCG seized 80 kilograms of cocaine at an address in Rosebery. Though there has been detailed reporting of the operation, involvement of any Sydney based customs broker is not known.
Agencies such as The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), AFP and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection also conducted a parallel investigation – codenamed Operation Zeus. An ABF officer was charged for assisting the syndicate avoid law enforcement detection. A former Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer has also been charged for the same offence.
Success of the exercise was due to the successful cooperation of UAE Ministry of Justice, the Dubai Public Prosecution Office, Dubai Police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Added to this was the domestic expertise of AUSTRAC, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD).
Head of this syndicate, a 47-year-old man from NSW was arrested in the United Arab Emirates by the Dubai police anti-narcotics department, assisted by AFP and NSWPF detectives.
According to Stephen Dametto, AFP Coordinator Organised Crime and Cyber, organised crime has become a global business and a high degree of sophistication and collaboration with multi country agencies is required to combat these groups.