Seventeen people accused of being part of a drug distribution ring will face trial following dawn raids in south-west Sydney.
The group, alleged members of an import and distribution syndicate linked to the Alameddine crime family and Comanchero cyclists, are between 19 and 28 years old and were arrested in coordinated raids on Tuesday.
A 39-year-old man, also in police custody, is hospitalized.
The majority of charges relate to the commercial supply of drugs, participation in or direction of a criminal group, trafficking in the proceeds of crime and firearms offences.
The raids were the result of a 10-month undercover operation and followed a crackdown on organized crime in response to a spate of shootings police said were mainly linked to control of Sydney’s drugs market.
State Crime Command Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said there will be more “operational activities planned for this week and month.”
“So that’s basically the beginning,” he told ABC TV on Wednesday.
“It’s basically about targeting the root cause of gang violence that we are all aware of.
“We are going to work hard on these people until they understand that this type of violence is not acceptable.”
Police Commissioner Karen Webb says she is pleased that police have “cut off the snake’s head”, referring to the Alamaddin network.
Taskforce Erebus was recently formed to tackle organized crime in New South Wales following recent shootings and played a role in the raids.
One of his roles is to coordinate existing operations so that the police do not get in the way.
Police began targeting the suspected syndicate in July with the formation of Strike Force Sugarcane.
They seized 36 phones in Tuesday’s raids which they say were used to arrange drug deals over the phone.
One had over 700 contacts, and it is alleged that each phone could bring in $250,000 a week.
Mr Bennett says the seized phones provided a treasure trove of information about the activities of drug traffickers.
“This information will form the basis of many future investigations.
“If you’ve used these phones, you can expect a knock on the door,” he said.
Competition over these phones is thought to be a factor in a number of murders as dealers fought to steal or keep the devices and their lucrative customer base.
Police are also investigating another shooting in south-west Sydney on Tuesday evening.
Reports of gunfire around 10.40pm brought officers to a unit block in Roselands, where they found a 30-year-old man shot in the hand.
He was taken to hospital in serious condition, while two 25-year-old women were arrested at the scene and a 25-year-old man grappled nearby.
The women were charged with concealing a serious criminal act and the man with having custody of a knife in a public place and being armed with intent to commit a criminal act.
It is not yet known whether the case is linked to other recent shootings or to drug trafficking.
Australian Associated Press