Thursday 22nd Nov, 2018

ABF and former Customs officers charged for helping smugglers

Photo: Australian Federal Police
Photo: Australian Federal Police

AN AUSTRALIAN Border Force officer has been charged for allegedly using his position to assist an international criminal syndicate in smuggling drugs and tobacco into Australia.

Also, a former Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer was charged with similar offences.

The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) carried out the operation that snagged the officers – codenamed Operation Zeus – in concert with the AFP and the DIBP on behalf of the Joint Organised Crime Group (JOCG).

ABF superintendent investigations NSW Garry Low said the ABF has a zero tolerance to any alleged corrupt behaviour and had been working actively with its law enforcement partners to respond to all threats posed by organised crime.

“Our determination to continue to work together to protect the Australian community is undiminished by the actions of a few,” he said.

“The ABF’s collaboration with our law enforcement partners and our multi-layered approach pre, at and post the border is having a significant impact on organised crime groups and this operation is a clear example of that.”

Operation Zeus was carried out in tandem with a wider criminal investigation which dismantled a global criminal syndicate, with eight people arrested in Sydney and one in Dubai for their alleged involvement in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs and tobacco into Australia.

Operation Astatine started in early 2016 targeting a New South Wales-based criminal network involved in smuggling.

Police will allege in court that the syndicate members conspired to import 200kg of MDMA via sea cargo. It will also be alleged that the syndicate was responsible for smuggling 50m cigarettes and laundered money in Australia and abroad.

On Tuesday, (August 8), the JOCG began a two-day operation targeting members of the syndicate, executing 13 search warrants across Sydney, supported by specialist and tactical units in the ABF and NSW Police.

During the raids, the JOCG seized about 80kg of cocaine at an address in Rosebery, and a total of $740,000 in cash across four properties in Edmonson Park, St Peters, Hurstville and Arncliffe. The JOCG also seized $2m over the course of the investigation.

AFP co-ordinator organised crime and cyber Detective Superintendent Stephen Dametto said, “to complement the great work done by the NSW JOCG, the AFP’s international network has enabled investigators to work closely with our partners in the United Arab Emirates (and other countries) to destroy this syndicate – without their help, we would not have been able to achieve the results we have to arrest the top players in this syndicate.”

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