Six Sydney men charged over alleged links to international drug ring, another arrested in LA

See the eyewatering bags of cash seized as global cocaine ring is smashed and alleged drug lord is dragged out of his house in handcuffs and a Tommy Hilfiger jumper in dawn raid

  • Authorities busted an international drug ring following 12 month investigation
  • Six men aged 30, 32, 33, 38, 41 and 44 were charged with string of offences 
  • $2.6 million cash, a rifle, ammunition, gold bullion, cigarettes and drugs seized
  • US Homeland Security Investigations arrested another man, 23, in Los Angeles

Six Sydney men have been charged and millions of dollars in cash and drugs seized after a multi-agency police investigation into an international drug ring.

Detectives from the NSW Police Force’s State Crime Command, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) established Operation Phobetor in 2021 to target and disrupt serious organised crime.

Investigators identified several transnational organised criminal networks (OCNs) working collaboratively to import illicit drugs from several countries into NSW.

They intercepted and seized 220kg of methylamphetamine in Los Angeles bound for Australia, along with 60kg of cocaine at a Sydney freight depot concealed inside pieces of machinery and $960,000 in cash.

Police launched early morning raids of 16 properties across Sydney on Wednesday,  where they seized more than $1.2 million cash stashed in sports bags, a rifle, ammunition, gold bullion, cigarettes, cocaine, MDMA, cannabis, steroids, electronic devices, cryptocurrency wallets and documents.

Police raided 16 properties across Sydney on Wednesday morning, including this home in Picton on the city's south-west outskirts

Police raided 16 properties across Sydney on Wednesday morning, including this home in Picton on the city’s south-west outskirts

Police seized $2.6million cash (pictured) in early morning raids and a vehicle stop, including this $1.2m haul found stashed in a sports bag

 Police seized $2.6million cash (pictured) in early morning raids and a vehicle stop, including this $1.2m haul found stashed in a sports bag

A cache of drugs including cocaine, MDMA, cannabis and steroids were also seized

A cache of drugs including cocaine, MDMA, cannabis and steroids were also seized

Five men – aged 30, 33, 38, 41 and 44 – were arrested during the operation and face numerous charges including supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Another two men – aged 28 and 32 – were arrested during a vehicle stop in Bankstown, where police seized a further $1.4 million.

The 28-year-old was charged with being involved in the distribution and collection of drugs while the 32-year-old man was released pending further inquiries.

Meanwhile, United States Homeland Security Investigations officers arrested a 23-year-old man in Los Angeles after seizing 128kg of methylamphetamine, 55kg of crystal MDMA, 18kg of cocaine and approximately $US15,000 ($A22,345).

NSW Police Force Organised Crime Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Faux said co-offending across criminal syndicates was becoming more prevalent.

‘Organised criminal networks are usually notoriously competitive for control in the illicit drug trade,’ he said on Thursday.

‘However, what we have seen through this operation and other intelligence is that some members of OCNs are working collaboratively to bring drugs into our country,’ he said.

Police had to smash their way into this car during a vehicle stop in Bankstown

Police had to smash their way into this car during a vehicle stop in Bankstown

Another two men - aged 28 and 32 - were arrested during a vehicle stop (pictured) in Bankstown, where police seized a further $1.4 million

Another two men – aged 28 and 32 – were arrested during a vehicle stop (pictured) in Bankstown, where police seized a further $1.4 million

Wednesday's raids were part of a multi-agency police investigation into an international drug ring that extended to both sides of the world

Wednesday’s raids were part of a multi-agency police investigation into an international drug ring that extended to both sides of the world

Five men were arrested during search warrants while two more were arrested during a vehicle stop in Bankstown. Six were later charged with a string of offences

Five men were arrested during search warrants while two more were arrested during a vehicle stop in Bankstown. Six were later charged with a string of offences

‘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.’

“We will continue to work collaboratively with our federal and international counterparts to identify these supply chains and disrupt their business model.’

AFP Commander Kate Ferry said the operation was an example of law enforcement at its best.

‘These criminals undermine our national security and our economy. They make our suburbs and roads less safe,’ she said.

‘The way Australians live will be changed if illicit drug use is not greatly reduced and if these serious criminals are not brought to justice.’

Investigations are continuing.

Of seven men arrested in Sydney on Wednesday, six were charged while the other was released pending further inquiries. Pictured is one of the arrests

Of seven men arrested in Sydney on Wednesday, six were charged while the other was released pending further inquiries. Pictured is one of the arrests

Police seized bags of evidence (pictured) during a vehicle stop in Bankstown later on Wednesday

Police seized bags of evidence (pictured) during a vehicle stop in Bankstown later on Wednesday

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