Crime & Justice

Over 250 arrested in Australia, New Zealand in crackdown on organized crime

Sydney, Australia, Jun 8 (EFE).- More than 250 people were arrested in an international operation against criminal organizations engaged in drug trafficking, murder and other crimes, the Australian and New Zealand police announced on Tuesday.

Detainees are allegedly “linked to Australian-based Italian mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, Asian crime syndicate and Albanian organized crime,” Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Reece Kershaw told reporters in Sydney.

“We allege they’ve been trafficking illicit drugs into Australia at an industrial scale,” he added.

The arrests took place under Operation Ironside, which targeted the ANoM encrypted platform used by organized crime.

The FBI gained access to the app and began running it covertly to see encrypted communications, which allegedly included plots to kill, mass drug trafficking and gun distribution, the AFP said.

In Australia, some 224 suspected criminals have been detained on 525 police charges across the country while six illicit labs have been shut down and 21 threats to kill have been thwarted to date, according to the police commissioner.

“We have prevented mass shootings in suburbs and frustrated serious and organized crime by seizing their ill-gotten wealth,” said Kershaw, adding that “organized crime syndicates target Australia, because sadly, the drug market is so lucrative.”

A total of 3.7 tons of drugs, 104 firearms, some AU$45 million ($34.9 million) in cash and assets expected to run into the millions of dollars have been seized under this operation, which began in 2018.

“More arrests are expected domestically and offshore under a coordinated global response connected to Operation Ironside,” the AFP said.

“Today, the Australian government, as part of a global operation, has struck a heavy blow against organized crime – not just in this country but one that will echo around organized crime around the world,” Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

The New Zealand police announced in a separate statement that it had arrested 35 alleged criminals throughout the country, as well as seized cash, drugs, firearms, vehicles, boats, among other things, as part of the operation, which it described as the “world’s most sophisticated law enforcement action against organized crime to date.” EFE


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