CMC investigation shuts down major heroin trafficking network — 30.05.2012
A major crime target believed to be central to a multi-million dollar heroin ring operating across South East Queensland has been charged with drug offences in the wake of a successful Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) operation.
The Gold Coast man, 42, with alleged links to Balkan crime groups, was arrested on Saturday (26 May) following the execution of search warrants at addresses in Brisbane and the Gold Coast that closed the covert phase of an 18-month CMC investigation, codenamed Operation Storm.
CMC Assistant Commissioner Crime Kathleen Florian says the case underlines the CMC’s focus on combating high-level organised crime that causes the most harm to Queenslanders.
‘Operation Storm has dismantled a major drug distribution network, primarily trafficking in heroin, stretching from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast,’ Ms Florian said, adding that the illicit drug ring had also likely sourced heroin from interstate.
‘It’s conservatively estimated that this network has been responsible for distributing at least 20kg of heroin – with an estimated street value of $25 million – through multiple distribution points, dating back to 2006.’
Ms Florian said it was expected that the investigation – which commenced in December 2010, involving collaboration with the Queensland Police Service, New South Wales Drug Squad and the Australian Federal Police (Serious and Organised Crime team) – would lead to further arrests over coming weeks.
She said the investigation’s principal target had been charged with trafficking in and possession of dangerous drugs, including heroin, methyl amphetamine, ecstasy and cannabis.
His car, a 2004 Continental Bentley, valued in excess of $100,000, has also been seized for extensive searching which, to date, has uncovered a quantity of illicit drugs.
The target appeared before Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday (29 May) and was remanded in custody. He is due to reappear for mention on 25 June.
Ms Florian said the success of Operation Storm had far-reaching ramifications with regard to the CMC’s commitment to protecting all Queenslanders.
‘Of all illicit drug markets, the use of heroin brings particular misery to the individuals and families who are affected by it,’ she said.
‘Heroin distribution also spawns the commission of secondary crimes that are undertaken to fund addiction, and places further pressure on our health services.’
Ms Florian stressed there was no question that the CMC’s successful netting of a major crime target also sent a strong deterrent message to other crime syndicates.
It comes on the heels of a recent jail sentence arising from Operation Warrior, the largest organised crime investigation in the CMC’s history, which closed in May 2010, linking a syndicate of family members in South East Queensland to drug distribution networks in Melbourne, Sydney and North Queensland. Read more about Operation Warrior.
Over the 10 years, since the CMC was established, the Crime unit has undertaken 276 tactical operations, arrested 953 people on a total of 10,570 charges and seized drugs to an estimated street value of $34.359 million.
Further, since 2003, when the Criminal Proceeds Confiscation Act 2002 came into force, the CMC has returned $37 million to the state and restrained close to $144 million worth of property ($144,448,528).
The CMC has recently commenced preparing its latest series of strategic intelligence assessments of the main organised crime threats to Queensland, including a focus on illicit drug markets. The reports are due for public release towards the end of the year.
Read more about our Crime function, including latest case studies.
For further information or to request an interview with Kathleen Florian, please contact CMC Media Adviser Shelley Thomas: 07 3360 6275 / 0407 373 803