27 May 2022

Wagga arrest part of state-wide crackdown on organised crime

| Claire Fenwicke
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45 arrests were made across NSW as part of Operation Hawk, including in Fairfield. Photo: NSW Police.

A Kooringal man is one of 45 people arrested during state-wide raids targeting organised crime as part of Operation Hawk.

The 28-year-old was arrested at Turvey Park in Wagga Wagga on Wednesday (25 May), before a firearm prohibition order search was executed at a Panorama Street property where he had been staying.

Police said they found prohibited drugs, prescribed restricted substances and fireworks at the home, and also seized a shotgun and ammunition officers alleged were not stored properly.

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The man was charged with two counts of possessing a prohibited drug, goods suspected stolen in/on premises and firearm found at premises subject to prohibition order.

He is due to appear at Wagga Wagga Local Court on 3 August.

Operation Hawk began on Tuesday (24 May), where 18 men in southwest Sydney were arrested for various drug supply, firearms, proceeds of crime, and direct or participating criminal group offences. They remain before the courts.

Later that day Operation Hawk was launched state-wide, targeting associates and facilitators of organised crime beyond Sydney.

Some of the items seized by police as part of Operation Hawk. Photo: NSW Police.

State-wide Hawk Commander Detective Superintendent Jason Weinstein said the operation followed the success of its predecessor earlier this year, but with a renewed focus on the state’s regions.

“This week we’ve succeeded in demobilising a significant drug supply syndicate operating from Sydney’s south-west, but also know the tentacles of illicit activity stretch far beyond our cities,” he said.

“NSW attracts around 40 per cent of Australia’s national organised crime population – many of whom attempt to evade the attention of police by operating outside of the Sydney metropolitan area.”

Det Supt Weinstein said the sale of prohibited drugs was a “lucrative market” worth at least $3.7 billion per year.

“[It is also] a root cause of the violent spate of murders we’ve recently seen,” he said.

“These arrests send a clear message to anyone involved in organised crime: that we are aware of your illicit activities and will hold you accountable irrespective of your location.”

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Other incidents of note from the operation include:

  • Search warrant executed at a Hawkesbury Street home in Fairfield West at 1:30 pm on Tuesday (24 May) led to the discovery of a large hydraulic press, electronic devices and more than 11kg of MDMA. Four men – two aged 21 and two aged 22 – were arrested at the scene. At 5:30 pm the same day a second crime scene was established at a Vancouver Place home in Fairfield West, where police located and seized a further 12kg of MDMA, 2.5kg of cocaine, and around 40 grams of suspected methylamphetamine. The total estimated street value of the seized drugs is believed to be more than $4 million. Both the 22-year-old men and a 21-year-old man were each charged with two counts of supply prohibited drug more than large commercial quantity and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity, while the other man, aged 21, was charged with five counts of supply prohibited drug more than large commercial quantity and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.
  • A Firearm Prohibition Order search was executed at a Seventh Street home in Weston at about 7 am on Wednesday (25 May). During the search, the man living at the home, a 49-year-old man who police said is a Life and Death Outlaw Motorcycle Group (OMCG) member, was taken to hospital following a medical episode. Police seized two rifles, a .22 calibre pistol, 350 rounds of ammunition, five gel blasters, a taser, almost 150 grams of methylamphetamine, 2kg of cannabis, $8,300 of cash and other items. The man was later charged with 33 offences, including supplying a prohibited drug and supplying cannabis, participate in criminal group contributing to criminal activity, knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime, and 28 firearm-related offences.
  • Police executed a search warrant at a home in Darlington Point at 10 am on Wednesday (25 May), where they seized 1.2kg of cannabis, more than $30,000 cash, ammunition, mobile phones, prohibited weapons and a safe. Inquiries are continuing and charges are expected to be laid.

Strike Force Hawk was established in October 2021 to target and disrupt organised criminal networks in Sydney.

Since that time, police operations have led to the seizure of more than 80 firearms and 3300 rounds of ammunition, $2.8 million in cash, and prohibited drugs with a combined estimated potential street value in excess of $9 million.

Original Article published by Claire Fenwicke on About Regional.

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