A total of $47 million worth of assets have been seized through a combined effort by Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) including, property, cars, designer goods, and luxury yacht, BAHAMA. Known as “Operation Steelers” by the Victoria Police, the investigation began in October 2020 and was led by the Echo Taskforce.
Image Source: Official Photo for BAHAMA Drug Bust News
Formal Media Release Information
According to the joint media release posted by the AFP and Victoria Police, the task force’s primary focus was on the on the “large scale Middle Eastern Organized Crime syndicate’s access to firearms, large-scale drug importation and unexplained wealth, as well as threats to life. The AFP’s Operation Fuji, which began in August 2021, had a strong focus on the syndicate’s criminal operations, including drug importations, and how they were planned and coordinated by syndicate leaders in custody in the prison system.”
Both investigations have arrested a total of 52 people on account of drug trafficking, possession of firearms, making and using false documents, dealing with money or property being proceeds of crime, and many others. A total of nine people have already been convicted and sentenced in criminal prosecutions.
More than 60 search warrants were executed across Melbourne and Victoria in which over $2 million in cash was attained, bank accounts were restrained, large quantities of heroin, methylamphetamines, cocaine, Butanediol, and cannabis among others were also seized.
Central to their strategy was confiscation of assets, among which, 60 properties were seized, the luxury yacht BAHAMA, five paintings, and a large amount of high-end jewelry and designer goods.
Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill, Victoria Police Crime Command commented,
“This was a significant, lengthy and complex investigation that has substantially changed the [organized] crime landscape here in Victoria. This was a syndicate that has brought immense harm to the community over many through their violent criminality and large-scale drug trafficking in particular.”
While Commander Paula Hudson of the AFP shared,
“Our warning to all people involved in transnational [organized] crime groups is clear: Not only is the AFP coming to dismantle your criminal enterprises, we are coming for your homes, vehicles, cash, luxury items, including watches, bags and the shoes you parade – we target it all.”