AFP restrains multi-million dollar properties linked to human trafficking investigation

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has restrained two residential properties in Sydney, worth more than $3.8 million dollars, as part of a human trafficking operation.

The properties are alleged to be where the victim, a female Indonesian national, was held against her will and subjected to forced labour for nearly six years.

Three people were arrested in the Sydney suburb of Eastlakes on 2 December 2019, following a year-long police investigation, codenamed Operation Falchion.

Police allege the man and two women used the 26-year-old victim as a maid in their Sydney residences from July 2014. From August 2014 the victim became an unlawful non-citizen and, during her entire time in Australia, was not allowed possession of her passport or allowed to return home.

It is further alleged that in addition to being made to perform significant hours of work each day, the victim was never remunerated during the period of her forced labour.

This week (22 March 2021) the AFP, through the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT), obtained restraining orders over two real estate properties in the Sydney suburbs of Eastlakes and Mascot, being the properties at which the offending is alleged to have occurred.

AFP’s National Manager Criminal Assets Litigation, Stefan Jerga, said that human trafficking is a hideous crime and the AFP will use all capabilities available to it to hold perpetrators to account.

“The CACT’s mandate is to deprive individuals and criminal organisations of not only the proceeds and benefits of their crimes, but also to confiscate instruments of crime, being property which is used in connection with the commission of their offending,” Mr Jerga said.

“The allegations in this case represent an example of someone being brought to Australia without their informed consent and forced to remain and work in conditions that Australians would find reprehensible.”

“Today we are able to demonstrate – if you commit this type of crime -not only do you risk going to jail, but the AFP and its partners will also target your assets for confiscation.”

The three, a 40-year-old woman, a 36-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man, are still before the courts, charged with:

  • Causing a person to remain in servitude contrary to section 270.5 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).
  • Concealing and harbouring non-citizens contrary to section 233E(3) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).

The 40 year old woman has also been charged with perverting the course of justice, contrary to section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

They are next scheduled to appear before District Court of New South Wales on 17 September 2021.

The AFP-led CACT formally commenced in 2011 as part of a multi-agency crackdown on criminal assets, bringing together the resources and expertise of the AFP, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and Australian Border Force.

Together, these agencies trace, restrain and ultimately confiscate criminal assets.

Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale, lead for the AFP’s Human Trafficking command, said this case highlights the growing trend in the number of human trafficking and slavery offences across Australia in recent years.

“These are crimes which often go unseen in Australian communities. We are urging all Australians to ‘look a little deeper’ at what may be going on around you, in your own neighborhood and in your own backyards” she said.

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