Victoria’s anti-bikie police have busted an alleged money-laundering syndicate, charging two dozen people they say were involved in the Middle Eastern gang, and seizing $40 million of property.
The investigation started in October 2020 and over two years focused on the syndicate’s access to guns, large-scale drug importation and unexplained wealth.
Victoria Police say the arrests are a breakthrough in their fight against organised crime.Credit:Getty Images
Police have charged 24 people connected to the gang, alleging they were laundering money made through crime through properties, companies and high-end cars.
Police said they seized $40 million worth of assets during the operation, and allege half of that property was the proceeds of crime.
They executed 75 search warrants, and the items they confiscated included more than $2.2 million of cash, a $400,000 Porsche which had allegedly been stolen and five firearms. They also seized large quantities of drugs, including 6 kilograms of heroin, 25.5 kilograms of methylamphetamine, 5.6 kilograms of cocaine as well as cannabis, GHB and prescription medication.
Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill said confiscating such property was an effective way to erode the powerbase of organised crime gangs.
“We will continue to target the assets acquired by these criminal groups through their nefarious ways,” he said on Thursday.
A 52-year-old Roxburgh Park man who was allegedly the head of the syndicate was charged with money-laundering offences, including dealing in money or property that’s the proceeds of indictable crime greater than $10 million.
He has already faced court, but 15 others are due to appear before a magistrate on Friday.
These include men and women aged between 22 and 59 from suburbs across Melbourne’s north.
Other alleged offenders have been charged with recklessly dealing with money or property that’s the proceeds of crime and similar offences and will face court next week.
This bust focused on money laundering but was part of a broader investigation into a large-scale Middle Eastern organised crime syndicate in Melbourne, police said.
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