Australian authorities destroy global drug and tobacco syndicate

EIGHT people including a Gold Coast man have been arrested in Sydney after a global drug and tobacco syndicate was smashed by the New South Wales Joint Organised Crime Group.

A 47-year-old man, from NSW, who police will allege was the head of the syndicate, was also arrested in the United Arab Emirates.

Police will seek his extradition back to Australia in the coming days.


The operation, dubbed Operation Astatine, began in early 2016 and focused on a NSW-based criminal network involved in drug trafficking and tobacco smuggling.

Australian Federal Police allege the syndicate members “played varied and active roles in a conspiracy to import 200 kilograms of MDMA via sea cargo”.

The syndicate was also allegedly responsible for “smuggling 50 million cigarettes into Australia and actively engaged in money laundering activities here and abroad”.

PHOTO: Supplied – Australian Federal Police

Following investigations, on Tuesday police executed 13 search warrants across Sydney targeting members allegedly connected to the syndicate.

During the search warrants, police seized approximately 80 kilograms of cocaine at an address in Rosebery, and a total of $740,000 cash across four properties in Edmonson Park, St Peters, Hurstville and Arncliffe. A further $2 million was also seized during the course of the investigation.

A controlled delivery, using a substituted inert substance, was carried out in Sydney on Tuesday and delivered to an address in Rosebery. A 52-year-old man from Benowa on the Gold Coast was later arrested for allegedly transporting and accessing the substance.

PHOTO: Supplied – Australian Federal Police

An Australian Border Force officer and a former female Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer are among the 9 people who have been arrested and charged.

Australian Federal police say they allegedly used their position to assist the syndicate avoid law enforcement detection.

Those arrested vary in ages between 41 and 58.

PHOTO: Supplied – Australian Federal Police

NSWPF Commander Organised Crime Squad, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook praised the work of investigators.

“Today’s operation brings to a conclusion 10 months of hard work by the members of the NSW JOCG and has resulted in an excellent outcome for the NSW community,” Detective Superintendent Cook said.

“The transnational nature of organised crime in NSW is now highly-complex and difficult to combat, yet the resolve of your police is unwavering. We will continue to develop our partnerships, locally, nationally and internationally to ensure we have the reach necessary to crush organised crime activities impacting NSW.”