The Australian Federal Police have arrested three members of Sydney’s Ibrahim family as part of an international drug bust worth nearly $1 billion.
The AFP say their sting has destroyed two interlinked crime syndicates operating across Australia, Dubai and the Netherlands, resulting in 17 arrests and the seizure of more than 1.9 tonnes of narcotics including MDMA, cocaine and crystal methamphetamine.
It is estimated the drugs have a potential street value of up to $810 million.
Following 30 search warrants being executed in Sydney, nine men and a woman were arrested on Tuesday. Eight are expected to face court today.
Another five men were arrested in the United Arab Emirates by the Dubai police anti-narcotics department and two men alleged to have been responsible for arranging the supply of drugs to the Australian-based syndicate were arrested in The Netherlands.
Police say it is one of the biggest blows against organised crime in Australia to date, after the AFP began their investigation back in mid-2016.
Operation Veyda is a joint investigation involving the AFP, NSW Police Force, Middle Eastern Crime Squad and the NSW Joint Organised Crime Group targeting drugs, money laundering and tobacco smuggling.
“The people we allege are part of this syndicate are Middle Eastern organised crime figures that are well-known to law enforcement, and for decades this group has flaunted their wealth and activities, telling the community they were untouchable. Today, it should be obvious that they are not,” said AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan, national manager of organised crime and cyber.
“This result could not have been achieved without the comprehensive and on-going support of our partners in the UAE and The Netherlands.”
According to The Australian, police will allege that members of the Ibrahim family were poised to act as the local distribution arm for the international drug syndicate, headed by two Australians, Hakan Arif and Steve Elmir.
Two of the four Ibrahim brothers — Fadi and Michael — were arrested, along with three others, in Dubai as the pair were dining in a local restaurant.
Among those arrested in Sydney was Sarah Budge, who was charged with illegally possessing a Glock 26 firearm, commonly known as a “baby Glock”. The charge is unconnected to the drug syndicate.
The 27-year-old model and owner of Kings Cross venue Crane Bar has been romantically linked to prominent Kings Cross nightclub owner John Ibrahim. His home was raided yesterday along with more than 20 other sites across Sydney and his 26-year-old son Daniel is among those arrested and facing charges of dealing with an instrument of crime.
John Ibrahim was not arrested and has not been charged.
Australian officials will now seek extraditions for the suspects overseas.
Police say their latest operation is an example of a new global approach to organised crime, going further offshore to shut down syndicates.
“This is only the beginning,” Gaughan said.
“We are aware that there are other Australians, organised criminals, who operate globally in other parts of the world. The message for them is: we know who you are. It might take us a while to bring you to justice, but our international partners one day will come knocking on your door.”
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