A Sydney-based cocaine-supply syndicate has been dismantled following a joint-agency investigation into money laundering, NSW Police say.
Strike Force Bugam is a joint investigation between the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) Organised Crime Squad and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) into internationally-based money laundering syndicates operating in Sydney.
Over the course of the investigation, which began in June 2016, detectives also identified an alleged cocaine supply syndicate, who were trafficking cocaine from Thailand for on-supply.
At the request of investigators, officers from Australian Border Force stopped a 49-year-old man as he arrived in Sydney from Thailand on Friday 2 September 2016.
Police later seized 111 pellets containing cocaine, with a total weight of 1.1kg, which were allegedly secreted inside the man.
He was subsequently charged with large commercial drug supply and knowingly participate in a criminal group. He remains before the courts.
Two further men – then aged 36 and 46 – were arrested by investigators on Wednesday 21 December 2016 after allegedly being observed supplying 1.1kg of cocaine at Pyrmont.
Both men were charged with drug supply. They remain before the courts.
Following extensive investigations, Strike Force Bugam officers, with the assistance of North West and South West Metropolitan Region Enforcement Squads, executed six search warrants at Dee Why, Five Dock, Lidcombe, Milperra, Padstow, and Panania, from 5am on Tuesday (7 November 2017).
Investigators seized cash, steroids, fireworks, documentation, mobile phones, SIM cards, computers, electronic storage devices, a small amount of white powder, believed to be cocaine, and a stolen boat, which had allegedly been rebirthed.
A 22-year-old man was arrested at the Dee Why home unit and taken to Manly Police Station, where was charged with knowingly direct activities of a criminal group, participate in a criminal group, two counts of drug supply, two counts of drug possession, two counts of knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, publish false misleading material to obtain advantage, receive vessel/part-theft, dispose vessel/part-theft, knowingly possess identity plate not on correct vehicle, and dishonestly possess interfered with unique identifier.
He was refused bail and appeared at Manly Local Court, where he was formally refused bail to appear at Central Local Court on Thursday 18 January 2018.
Another 22-year-old man was arrested at the Lidcombe home and taken to Burwood Police Station, where he was charged with participate criminal group contribute criminal, deal with property proceeds of crime-greater than $100,000, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, dishonestly interfere/copy unique identifier, dishonestly possess interfered with unique identifier, dispose vessel/part-theft, knowingly facilitate organised car rebirthing activity.
He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Burwood Local Court on Thursday 30 November 2017.
A 42-year-old man was arrested at the Milperra home and taken to Bankstown Police Station, where he was charged with participate in a criminal group, publish false misleading material to obtain advantage, receive vessel/part-theft, dispose vessel/part-theft, and dishonestly possess interfered with unique identifier.
He was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Bankstown Local Court on Wednesday 29 November 2017.
As a result of further inquiries, another two search warrants were executed at Dulwich Hill and Marrickville from 6am on Wednesday (8 November 2017).
Investigators seized mobile phones, computers, electronic storage devices, and financial documentation.
In total, Strike Force Bugam investigators have dismantled three criminal syndicates, with the arrest of 18 people, who were charged with 117 offences, including import, supply, and possess border controlled drug; directing and participating in criminal groups, dealing with proceeds of crime, vehicle re-birthing, and money laundering.
In addition, investigators seized more than $1.7 million cash, 12.25kg of cocaine, 6.2kg of ice, 1000 MDMA tablets, seven illegal firearms, and six vehicles.
Organised Crime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said Strike Force Bugam has proven that ‘following the money’ is effective in the investigation of organised criminal activity.
“Throughout this investigation, strike force officers have traced financial transactions and unravelled three criminal groups allegedly dealing in various aspects of illegitimate business,” Det Supt Cook said.
“By focusing on the cash or other proceeds of crime, we are hitting them where it hurts most – profit.
“The Organised Crime Squad sees the combination of our strengths with those of our partner agencies – in this case, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission – the key to success in combating transnational organised crime,” Det Supt Scott Cook.
Australian Crime Intelligence Commission NSW State Manager, Warren Gray, said serious and organised crime is growing in sophistication and constantly adopting new and advanced technologies to undertake illegal activities which can impact all Australians.
“Investigations like Strike Force Bugam affirm the effectiveness of ‘following the money’ to detect and disrupt organised criminal activities,” Mr Gray said.
“This outcome is a strong example of the value of intelligence sharing between the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and our state and territory police partners.”
Police are urging anyone with information in relation to organised criminal activity impacting their local community to call Crime Stoppers.