A suspect is led away as part of Wednesday morning’s drug raids. Photo: Andrew Nelson/Nine News, via Twitter Police raided 15 properties across Melbourne on Wednesday. Photo: Victoria Police.
Police executed 15 search warrants and arrested eight people in Melbourne. Photo: Victoria Police.
A five-month investigation targeting an alleged international, multi-million dollar heroin trade, stretching as far as Afghanistan, has culminated in raids across Melbourne and New Zealand.
The Joint Organised Crime Taskforce, headed by the Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police, executed 15 warrants on Wednesday, swooping on homes and businesses mostly in the north-west.
Seven Victorian men arrested during the raids were also suspected of links to violent crimes, weapons offences – including cases where people have been shot – and burglaries, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana said.
“Some of them are really well linked to street gangs that have been causing havoc right across the north western suburbs of Melbourne,” he said.
Australian police seized what they believe to be more than $6 million worth of heroin and ecstasy, as well as more than ten cars, an unknown amount of cash, a sawn-off shotgun and a 50kg industrial pill press.
Warrants were executed in Essendon, Docklands, Wollert, Roxburgh Park, Epping, Bundoora, Campbellfield, Hadfield, Glenroy, Fitzroy, Meadow Heights, Narre Warren North, Dandenong and Brunswick.
In New Zealand, the suspected “transit point” for the drugs into Australia from countries like Afghanistan, police arrested a 53-year-old Auckland man and seized more than 12kg of white powder, believed to be heroin.
AFP Melbourne managing acting Commander Matt Warren said: “Certainly we’re seeing linkages through Pakistan and Afghanistan and that’s a well established heroin production and trafficking route.”
The operation, codenamed Grote, was launched after police intelligence identified a longstanding international organised crime syndicate that was targeting Australia and New Zealand.
A 26-year-old from Bundoora was charged with trafficking a large commercial quantity of heroin, possessing a large commercial quantity of heroin and possessing a large commercial quantity of MDMA, or ecstasy, and remanded to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on February 24.
A 49-year-old from Wollert, a 40-year-old from Roxburgh Park, and a 23-year-old from Essendon were charged with trafficking a large commercial quantity of heroin, and a 30-year-old from Docklands was charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of heroin. The men were all remanded to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on February 24.
A 48-year-old from Narre Warren North was charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime and bailed to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on February 24.
A 22-year-old from Glenroy and a 52-year-old from Brunswick were charged with possessing a drug of dependence and bailed to appear in court at a later date.
A 17-year-old from Hadfield was arrested and released pending summons for drug possession, and a 27-year-old from Campbellfield man was arrested and released pending summons.
While the availability of methamphetamine in the community has been widely publicised, Mr Fontana said there were a growing number of police investigations specifically targeting heroin trafficking.
Wednesday’s raids come just two months after police swooped on another alleged sophisticated heroin trafficking syndicate, which they believed had been producing $250,000 worth of the drug each week. More than ten people have been charged following the October raids.
“Australia’s is being targeted by international crime syndicates because we’re willing to pay more for our drugs and we’ve got the demand,” Mr Fontana said on Wednesday.
“This is just the first of a number of operations that we’ll probably see in the future, where its not just methamphet that we’re dealing with.
“We’ve got a number of syndicates that we believe are currently active, that we’re working on and we will get results.” Police have also taken a pill press from the essendon apartment. #TenNewspic.twitter南京夜网/bJP0siLnJ5 — Matt Gallant (@mgallant_melb) December 17, 2014This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.