As part of ongoing investigations, a number of raids were executed across 16 properties in Western Sydney yesterday in the early hours of the morning.
Police found and seized more than $1.2 million in cash, a rifle, ammunition, gold bullion, cigarettes, cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, steroids, electronic devices, cryptocurrency wallets, and documents.
Five men – whose ages range from 30 to 44 – were arrested during the raids.
Later that day, a “controlled delivery” was observed by police, eventually leading to the discovery of a further $1.4 million in cash.
A 28-year-old man and a 32-year-old man were arrested at the scene, with the older man later released.
Simultaneously, authorities in the US conducted their own raids, where 128kg of methamphetamine, 55kg of crystal MDMA, 18kg of cocaine, and approximately $US15,000 ($22,000) was seized in Los Angeles.
The combined street value of the drugs is estimated to be well over $300 million.
It will be alleged a 33-year-old Earlwood man used his job to monitor consignments arriving in Sydney to assist the syndicate.
Detective Superintendent Peter Faux said that the operation revealed a number of different overseas crime groups had been working together to import the drugs to Australia.
“Crime groups are definitely trying to work collaboratively to avoid law enforcement,” he said.
“What it has shown as well is that working with our partner agencies – not only in NSW and Australia but around the world - we will identify the people and dismantle their syndicates.”
Faux said that criminal groups working together “is becoming more common”.
“I think it’s become more prevalent … I think it’s becoming more common that they see themselves, if they work collaboratively, they can be more successful,” he said.
Multiple other international groups outside of Australia and the US are believed to have been involved in the networks, Faux said, but was unable to comment on specifics.
“There are people who are actually overseas at the moment who we believed are involved in these offences and we look forward to speaking to them,” he said.
“While the different methods of concealment aren’t new, it’s the level of involvement from various criminal syndicates to bring in shipments which is of note.”
The five men have been charged with various offences and are all due to face court in the coming weeks and months.
Since 2021, NSW Police, alongside the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Australian Border Force (ABF) officers and the United States Homeland Security have been working collaboratively to intercept drugs headed for Australia.
Prior to yesterday’s raids, officers had intercepted and seized about 220kg of methamphetamine in Los Angeles, bound for Australia, about 60kg of cocaine at a Sydney freight depot concealed inside pieces of machinery, and $960,000 cash.