20 arrested, seven charged with trafficking in major police drug sting

Detectives from the Caulfield Divisional Response Unit (DRU) have crushed a major drug trafficking syndicate operating in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, arresting twenty people following a year-long investigation.

The long-running investigation into the alleged trafficking of methylamphetamine, cocaine and 1,4 butanediol culminated on Tuesday morning, with 13 people arrested during sweeping raids across Clarinda, East Brighton, Keysborough, Langwarrin, Port Melbourne, Cranbourne, Skye, Brighton and Frankston.

The early morning warrants were conducted by the Caulfield DRU, with the assistance of numerous detectives from across Southern Metro Region, Criminal Proceeds Squad, and Armed Crime Squad. Specialist police from the Critical Incident Response Team and Special Operations Group were also utilised, as well as the Australian Federal Police.

Seven people allegedly connected to the organised crime syndicate have been arrested for drug trafficking since July including:

• On Tuesday, a 39-year-old Brighton East man was arrested and charged with trafficking cocaine and three counts of drug possession. He was presented to court and bailed with strict conditions to appear at Moorabbin Magistrates Court on 25 February 2022.

• On Tuesday, a 32-year-old Keysborough man was arrested and charged with trafficking 1,4 butanediol, possession of ammunition, steroids, and the proceeds of crime. He has been remanded to appear at Dandenong Magistrates Court on 7 December 2021.

• On 18 November, a 32-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman from Frankston were arrested and charged with trafficking methylamphetamine, cocaine and 1,4 butanol and committing an indictable offence while on bail. Both have been bailed to appear before the Frankston Magistrates Court on 26 April 2022.

• On 27 August, a 35-year-old Cranbourne man was arrested and charged with trafficking methylamphetamine and cocaine, as well as dealing with the proceeds of crime. He has been remanded to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 25 January 2022

• On 20 July, a 28-year-old Balnarring man and 36-year-old Frankston man were intercepted by police performing a patrol of the NSW border near Wodonga on 20 July. Upon inspection of the tow truck being driven by the men, detectives from the Wodonga Criminal Investigation Unit located a substance, which following forensic examination was found to be more than 15kg of methylamphetamine, estimated to be worth up to $10 million street value. Both men were charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of a drug of dependence. The 28-year-old Balnarring man has been remanded to appear before the Wodonga Magistrates Court on 15 December 2021.The 36-year-old Frankston man has been remanded to appear before the Wodonga Magistrates Court on 1 July 2022.

A 26-year old Clarinda man allegedly connected to the syndicate was also found in possession of a homemade machine gun following a search of his property on Tuesday. The man was already subject to a Firearm Prohibition Order (FPO) and was arrested and charged with a number of offences, including the possession of a handgun, possessing a firearm while person has been issued with a prohibition firearms order, drug offences and committing an indictable offence while on bail. He has been held overnight to appear at the Moorabbin Magistrates Court on 6 December 2021.

Charges laid against the other 12 people arrested as part of this operation include drug possession, possess proceeds of crime, possess prohibited weapon, possess imitation firearm, and breach of parole.

Over the course of the operation, police seized:

• More than 15kg of methylamphetamine worth over $10 million.

• Traffickable quantities of cocaine.

• Traffickable quantities of 1,4 butanediol.

• Large amounts of prescription medicines.

• Small amounts of ecstasy and cannabis.

• Around 7,900 steroid tablets and 35 steroid vials.

• A homemade machine gun.

• Two imitation firearms.

• Two prohibited weapons, including knuckle dusters.

• Firearm ammunition, including loaded magazines.

• Almost $650,000 in cash.

• A silver Ford Ranger ute, a blue Ford Ranger ute, a tow truck and keys to a stolen HSV.

• Several electronic devices, including a frequency jammer.

A full list of the units involved in this operation includes the Caulfield DRU, Prahran, Dandenong and Mornington DRUs, Southern Metro Crime Team, Dandenong Frontline Tactical Unit, Bayside Family Violence Investigation Unit and Sexual Offences and Child Investigation Team, Moorabbin Criminal Investigation Team, Criminal Proceeds Squad, Armed Crime Squad, Critical Incident Response Team, Special Operations Group, and Australian Federal Police.

Quotes attributed to Southern Metropolitan Region Commander Therese Fitzgerald:

“The Caulfield DRU has spent large parts of the past twelve months painstakingly working on a plan to dismantle this organised crime syndicate, seize significant amounts of drugs, and ultimately, make our community a safer place.

“We now have a significant number of people with incredibly serious drug charges hanging over their heads – these people may have set out with images of easy money in their eyes, but they are now staring at the harsh reality of many years confined to a prison cell,

“If you think you can make a quick dollar dealing drugs, think again. We have dedicated teams of detectives across the entire state keeping a close eye on you- whether you’re the head of a syndicate or a lowly drug runner, you will be caught.

“If these drugs had made it to the streets, they would have caused untold damage, while their sale would have funded further criminal enterprises. Instead these substances will be destroyed without reaching a single drug user or fattening the wallet of an alleged dealer.”

“Operations such as these not only destroy the financial foundations that criminals are built upon, but they are equally as damaging in fracturing relationships and social connections between drug distributors in the community.”

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