After Operation Ironside, AFP says international criminals are adapting their business models
Organised crime gangs bringing millions of dollars worth of illicit drugs and tobacco into Australia have infiltrated freight companies and government agencies, with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) arresting 20 people who had access to secure areas of the nation’s sea and airports.
Last month, the AFP revealed its collaboration with the United States’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Operation Ironside — a three-year-long international investigation aimed at pulling apart drug smuggling rings on both sides of the Pacific.
The FBI had developed an encrypted app, called AN0M, which was used to lure gangs into sharing details of their operations.
Raids in Australia have led to 271 people being charged, the seizure of $45 million in assets and cash, and almost four tonnes of drugs.
“I can reveal today that 29 ‘trusted insiders’ have been arrested under Operation Ironside, and at least 20 of those arrested had previously held an aviation or maritime security identification card,” AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw told the National Press Club on Wednesday.
“Private sector employees include freight forwarding and logistic companies, couriers, trucking firms, those working at ports, airports and mail centres.
“Lawyers, accountants and some government officials have also been identified as enablers of Australia’s multi-billion-dollar drug trafficking industry.”
Commissioner Kershaw said individuals helping crime gangs took a cut of the illicit profits, using their inside knowledge of freight movements and security arrangements to fuel the trade.