The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has commenced proceedings in a Sydney court seeking to confiscate a house containing hidden rooms allegedly developed and used for drug trafficking purposes, under Commonwealth proceeds of crime legislation.
On 10 July 2019, the Supreme Court of NSW made orders which restrained a residential property in Sylvania, NSW, under section 19 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Cth) based on the allegation the property was used in, or in connection with, various drug offences under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
This court action follows an earlier AFP investigation into the activities of a Sydney-based Colombian organised crime group allegedly involved in the importation of border-controlled drugs and the laundering of proceeds of crime.
AFP officers had previously executed a search warrant at the Sylvania property in 2017, discovering two hidden rooms inside a cellar containing automatic doors disguised as a bookshelf. AFP officers seized cash, drugs, a wireless transmitting detection device, a Taser and replica firearms from the property at the time.
A now 45-year-old man, a joint owner of the property, was charged for multiple drug-related offences, including supplying cocaine, possessing cannabis and dealing in proceeds of crime with a value over $100,000. Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to certain offences. The man was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of two years and four months.
The construction, and subsequent use, of the hidden rooms for the purpose of drug trafficking activities underpinned the restraining order application.
Yesterday (11 July 2019), members of the AFP Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce executed a search warrant at the Sylvania property under the Proceeds of Crime Act to gather further evidence to assist with future court proceedings, alleging the property was used as an instrument of crime.
AFP Coordinator Criminal Assets Litigation Penelope Kelton said the AFP is relentless in seeking opportunities to disrupt, deter and reduce serious and organized crime by depriving criminals of their assets, including things they use, or intend to use, to commit their crimes.
“The ability to confiscate items used in the commission of crimes sends a clear message to the criminal underworld – if you commit the crime, we are prepared to target your assets,” she said.
“Drug related crime puts a great strain on the community through increased health care costs, associated property crime and other forms of violence. It is only reasonable that police can fight back on behalf of the community by targeting those who seek to profit from inflicting this misery.”
The proceeds of crime aspect of this investigation is ongoing.
Images of the property and from the original 2017 investigation are available here. https://spaces.hightail.com/space/cn2XF4LNAs