NSW: Ironside East-Rega (case study)

Operation IRONSIDE EAST-REGA is an investigation into a criminal syndicate involved in drug importation and money laundering, with alleged links to the Lone Wolf Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG).

The Australian Federal Police investigation has to date resulted in 11 arrests and the seizure of more than 700 kilograms of methamphetamine across multiple phases of the operation.

Police allege the syndicate is controlled by an OMCG member based offshore, who is the organiser of numerous criminal ventures impacting Australia and uses encrypted communications devices to communicate with criminal associates. Within Australia, it is alleged the criminal operations are controlled by a NSW man who oversees criminal activities across the country.

The criminal syndicate has allegedly used encrypted communications devices to execute multiple importations of methamphetamine from the Republic of Korea and to facilitate the distribution of drugs in Australia.

The intelligence gathered during Operation IRONSIDE EAST-REGA identified key members of a money laundering syndicate, significant associates and members of an OMCG, and crucial insights into the syndicate’s methamphetamine import methodologies, supply and distribution chains.

Operation IRONSIDE-REGA intelligence into the workings of this criminal syndicate has resulted in multiple overt disruptions and arrests since April 2021.

Phase 1: Two arrested and 289 kilograms of methamphetamine seized

NSW Police Organised Crime Squad and AFP detectives arrested a 40-year-old Woy Woy man and a 28-year-old Kingswood man in April 2021 with a total of 289 kilograms of methamphetamine, and approximately $300,000 in cash and designer watches seized.

Phase 2: One man charged and 230 kilograms of methamphetamine seized

AFP and NSW Police officers charged a 37-year-old Newcastle man with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug in May 2021. Two shipments of helical gear drives from the Republic of Korea were seized at Port Botany and found to contain a total of 230 kilograms of methamphetamine.

A further six helical gears containing approximately 270 kilograms of methamphetamine were seized by police in May 2021 during a search warrant at a factory in the Newcastle region.

Phase 3 - Two men allegedly linked to a money laundering syndicate arrested

Two men were charged in May 2021 for money laundering offences. They were allegedly found to have in excess of $1 million cash in their possession, which police will allege to be proceeds of crime.

Following this activity, a 32-year-old Marsden Park man suspected of facilitating the movement of large sums of cash between criminal syndicates was arrested on 3 June 2021. During the searches, approximately $1.5 million in cash suspected to be proceeds of crime was seized.

A 30-year-old Edmondson Park man was arrested for dealing in proceeds of crime, and a further $100,000 seized during a search of the man’s home.

Phase 4 - Four men arrested including the alleged onshore syndicate controller in Australia

AFP and NSW Police officers executed six search warrants on Monday (7 June 2021) across Western Sydney in Bardia, Marsden Park, Erskine Park, Ropes Crossing, Gosford, and St. Leonards.

Four alleged associates of Lone Wolf OMCG were arrested during this activity:

  • A 39-year-old Bardia man was arrested at his home and is suspected of being the onshore controller of a criminal syndicate in Australia. He was charged with allegedly directing activities of a criminal organisation and importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.
  • A 32-year-old Ropes Crossing man was charged with a money laundering offence and allegedly importing a commercial quantity of methamphetamine.
  • A 37-year-old North Gosford man was charged with allegedly importing a commercial quantity of methamphetamine.
  • A 37-year-old St Leonards man was charged for allegedly possessing an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine.

AFP intelligence has revealed the syndicate also ran an alleged ‘hit team’ or ‘street team’, suspected to be carrying out surveillance of their drug trafficking enterprises, using technology. Enquiries into this ‘hit team’ are continuing.

The AFP is expecting to make further arrests as part of Operation IRONSIDE EAST-REGA.

Seized items

  • More than 700 kilograms of methamphetamine
  • Approx. $2.6 million in cash
  • Designer watches
  • Multiple mobile phones

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