45 arrested; numerous firearms and over $4 million in prohibited drugs seized during state-wide blitz on OCN

Police have arrested 45 people, seized eight firearms, a hydraulic press and more than 20kg of MDMA and other prohibited drugs, during state-wide raids targeting organised crime under Operation Hawk.

Last October (2021), police from across State Crime Command and South West Metropolitan Region established Strike Force Hawk to target and disrupt organised criminal networks operating in Sydney.

Since that time, police have conducted several proactive operations which have led to the seizure of more than 80 firearms and 3300 rounds of ammunition, $2.8 million cash, and prohibited drugs with a combined estimated potential street value in excess of $9 million.

On Tuesday (24 May 2022), a large-scale police operation – coordinated by Taskforce Erebus – resulted in the arrest of 18 men in south-west Sydney for various drug supply, firearm, proceeds of crime and direct or participate criminal group offences. They remain before the courts.

Later that day, specialist units and officers from Police Area Commands and Districts across NSW launched Operation Hawk state-wide, targeting associates and facilitators of organised crime beyond Sydney.

State-wide Hawk Commander, Detective Superintendent Jason Weinstein, said the operation followed the success of its predecessor earlier this year, but with a renewed focus on the state’s regions.

“This week we’ve succeeded in demobilising a significant drug supply syndicate operating from Sydney’s south-west, but also know the tentacles of illicit activity stretch far beyond our cities,” Det Supt Weinstein said.

“NSW attracts around 40 per cent of Australia’s national organised crime population – many of whom attempt to evade the attention of police by operating outside of the Sydney metropolitan area.

“The sale of prohibited drugs in NSW is a lucrative market worth at least $3.7bn per year at a street level, and a root cause of the violent spate of murders we’ve recently seen.

“These arrests send a clear message to anyone involved in organised crime: that we are aware of your illicit activities and will hold you accountable irrespective of your location,” Det Supt Weinstein said.

Incidents of note include:

  • About 1.30pm on Tuesday (24 May 2022), officers attached to Raptor Squad executed a search warrant at a home on Hawkesbury Street at Fairfield West, immediately locating a large hydraulic press, electronic devices and more than 11kg of MDMA. A crime scene was established and four men – two aged 21 and two aged 22 – were arrested and taken Liverpool Police Station. About 5.30pm, police searched a home on Vancouver Place at Fairfield West. A second crime scene was established after police located and seized a further 12kg of MDMA, 2.5kg of cocaine, and around 40 grams of a crystal substance suspected to be methylamphetamine. The total estimated street value of the seized drugs is believed to be more than $4 million. Both the 22-year-old men and a 21-year-old man were each charged with two counts of supply prohibited drug more than large commercial quantity and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity, while the other man, aged 21, was charged with five counts of supply prohibited drug more than large commercial quantity and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity. All were refused bail and appeared at Fairfield Local court the following day, where they were formally refused bail to reappear at the same court on Monday 18 July 2022.
  • About 7am on Wednesday (25 May 2022), officers attached to Hunter Valley Proactive Crime Team – assisted by Northern Region Operation Support Group (OSG) – executed a Firearm Prohibition Order (FPO) search at a home on Seventh Street at Weston. During the search the occupant of the home, a 49-year-old man who is a member of the Life and Death Outlaw Motorcycle Group (OMCG), was taken to hospital following a medical episode. Police allegedly located a significant quantity of cannabis and declared a crime scene, before later executing a search warrant at the address and locating and seizing two rifles and a .22 calibre pistol, 350 rounds of ammunition, five gel blasters, an electronic stun device, almost 150 grams of methylamphetamine, 2kg of cannabis, $8,300 cash, and other items. Upon release, the man was conveyed to Cessnock Police Station and charged with 33 offences, including supply prohibited drug and supply cannabis, participate criminal group contribute criminal activity, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, and 28 firearm-related offences. He was refused bail and appeared at Cessnock Local Court yesterday (Thursday 26 May 2022), where he was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court next month (Wednesday 15 June 2022).
  • Just before midnight on Saturday 21 May 2022, police attached to Burwood Highway Patrol located a stolen blue Ford Focus parked on Canterbury Road at Summer Hill. The vehicle was subsequently towed to a holding yard for forensic examination. The following day, a 33-year-old man who was in custody at Campsie Police Station for unrelated matters was allegedly found to be in possession of a key to the stolen car. Police returned to the holding yard and searched the vehicle, locating and seizing two revolvers found inside a heat-sealed bag within the Ford. The matter was referred to police from Raptor Squad, who commenced inquiries. Following further investigations, police attended a correctional centre at Silverwater on Wednesday (25 May 2022) and charged the 33-year-old man with supply firearm to person unauthorised to possess it, supply prohibited firearm to unauthorised person, possess unauthorised prohibited firearm, possess unauthorised pistol, acquire prohibited firearm – subject prohibition order, and goods in personal custody suspected being stolen. He appeared at Burwood local court that day, where he was refused bail and remanded in custody to reappear at the same court on Wednesday 20 July 2022.
  • With assistance from the Riverina Police District Proactive Crime Team, a 28-year-old man was arrested at Turvey Park in Wagga Wagga on Wednesday (25 May 2022). A short time later, an FPO search was executed at the property he was residing at on Panaroma Street, Kooringal, where police seized prohibited drugs, prescribed restricted substances and fireworks. A shotgun and ammunition – which police will allege was not stored properly – was also seized. The man was charged with firearm found at premises subject to prohibition order, two counts of possess prohibited drug, and goods suspected stolen in/on premises. He is due to appear before Wagga Wagga Local Court on Wednesday 3 August 2022.
  • About 10am on Wednesday 25 May 2022, officers from Murrumbidgee Police District executed a search warrant at a home in Darlington Point. Police located and seized 1.2kg of cannabis, more than $30,000 cash, ammunition, mobile phones, prohibited weapons and a safe. Inquiries are continuing and charges are expected to be laid.

Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

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