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 the New South Wales police state crime command, the Australian federal police (AFP) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) established Operation Phobetor to target and disrupt serious organised crime in NSW.
NSW police said investigators identified several transnational organised criminal networks (OCNs) working collaboratively to import illicit drugs from several countries into the state.
They intercepted and seized about 220kg of methylamphetamine in Los Angeles, bound for Australia, approximately 60kg of cocaine at a Sydney freight depot concealed inside pieces of machinery and $960,000 in cash.
Police raided 16 properties across Sydney at dawn on Wednesday, seizing more than $1.2m in cash, a rifle, ammunition, gold bullion, cigarettes, cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, steroids, electronic devices, cryptocurrency wallets and documents.
Five men aged between 30 and 44 were arrested during the operation and face multiple charges including supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Another two men, 28 and 32, were arrested at 8.30am in Bankstown during a vehicle stop with police seizing a further $1.4m.
The 28-year-old was charged with being involved in the distribution and collection of drugs while the 32-year-old man was released pending further inquiries.
US homeland security investigations officers arrested a 23-year-old man in LA after seizing 128kg of methylamphetamine, 55kg of crystal MDMA, 18kg of cocaine and approximately US$15,000 (AU$22,345).
NSW police organised crime squad commander Det Supt Peter Faux said co-offending across criminal syndicates was becoming more prevalent.
“Organised criminal networks are usually notoriously competitive for control in the illicit drug trade,” he said on Thursday.
“However, what we have seen through this operation and other intelligence is that some members of OCNs are working collaboratively to bring drugs into our country.
“While the different methods of concealment aren’t new, it’s the level of involvement from various criminal syndicates to bring in shipments which is of note.”
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,” she said. “They make our suburbs and roads less safe.
“The way Australians live will be changed if illicit drug use is not greatly reduced and if these serious criminals are not brought to justice.”
Investigations are continuing.