Two arrested as robbery strike force inquiries continue – Strike Force Tuft


Two arrested as inquiries continue into spate of armed robberies across Sydney

The Blue Gum Hotel at Waitara was held up on October 20.

The Blue Gum Hotel at Waitara was held up on October 20.

TWO men arrested yesterday are helping police with their inquiries into a spate of armed robberies across Sydney, including one at the Blue Gum Hotel at Waitara.

Detectives from Strike Force Tuft arrested the two men, aged 33 and 30, after a car was stopped at the intersection of Kurrajong Rd and Glossip St at St Marys.

The men are assisting the detectives with inquiries into armed robberies at a hotel in Rooty Hill on Saturday and a licensed premises in St Marys on Sunday.

Inquiries are also continuing into a series of armed robberies at newsagencies, service stations, liquor stores and hotels across Sydney between August 24 and October 21.

During some of the incidents, two men entered the premises armed with a pistol and demanded cash from employees before fleeing the scene.

The Blue Gum Hotel was held up on Monday, October 20 when two men entered the establishment about 3pm and approached a woman in the poker machine room. The men showed her a handgun and demanded cash.

The pair left with a small amount of money and fled via the bottleshop area in Unwin Rd and were last seen turning left into Clarke Rd.

Detectives have renewed their appeals for anyone with information to come forward.

Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/


 

Monday, 24 November 2014 08:41:41 PM

Two men are assisting with inquiries into a number of armed robberies across Sydney.

Between Sunday 24 August and Tuesday 21 October 2014, a series of armed robberies was committed upon newsagents, service stations, liquor stores and hotels across Sydney.

During some of the incidents, two men entered the premises armed with a pistol and demanded cash from employees before fleeing the scene.

Officers attached to the Metropolitan Robbery Unit established Strike Force Tuft to investigate the 15 armed robberies and believe they may be linked.

As a result of inquiries by strike force detectives two men, aged 33 and 30, were arrested after a car was stopped at the intersection of Kurrajong Road and Glossop Street a St Marys today (Monday 24 November 2014).

The pair are currently assisting with strike force detectives with inquiries into armed robberies at a hotel in Rooty Hill on 22 November and a licensed premise in St Marys the next day.

Meanwhile, inquiries by strike force detectives into the robberies are continuing.

Further details of the armed robberies include:

a service station at Bankstown on Sunday 24 August 2014,

• a service station at Kellyville on Sunday 24 August 2014,

• a bottle shop at Padstow on Sunday 24 August 2014,

• a newsagency at Smithfield on Thursday 28 August 2014,

• a hotel at Rosehill on Thursday 28 August 2014,

• a club at Eastwood on Saturday 30 August 2014,

• a hotel at Fairfield on Monday 1 September 2014,

• The attempted robbery of a hotel at Allawah on Sunday 7 September 2014,

• a hotel at Ashfield on Sunday 7 September 2014,

• a hotel at Villawood on Thursday 9 September 2014,

• a hotel at Warwick Farm on Monday 13 October 2014,

• a hotel at Merrylands on Wednesday 15 October 2014,

• a hotel at Summer Hill on Saturday 18 October 2014,

• a hotel at Greenfield Park on Monday 20 October 2014,

• a hotel at Waitara on Monday 20 October 2014, and;

• a hotel at Smithfield on Wednesday 22 October, 2014

Detectives are continuing their inquiries and have renewed their appeals for anyone with further information to come forward.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/ Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Mick Featherstone, ex Queensland police detective, investigated over alleged fraud, links to bikies


15 years as a copper earning better than most was not enough for this snake.

Greedy people cannot help themselves to the big pie it seems. Including coppers who are supposed to fight against this stuff. “Mike Featherstone” might sound like a new Hollywood Cop comedy film that might of been played by the late great Robin Williams…but this ex copper is a crim, a traitor and a grub, a liar, informant and insider.

Have a lot more but needed to see it mainstream first for legal reasons folks…

Michael Featherstone, former senior Queensland police detective, investigated over alleged fraud, links to bikies

Tue 2 Sep 2014, 6:46pm

Former senior police detective Michael Featherstone

Photo: Michael Featherstone is at the centre of a major corruption and money laundering investigation. (Tony Phillips)

A former senior police detective is at the centre of a major corruption and money laundering investigation by Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC).

Investigators are probing Michael Featherstone’s links to senior serving and former police officers on the Gold Coast and elsewhere, his possible connections to bikies and his role in cold-calling companies alleged to be involved in fraud.

The companies, which advertise horse-racing betting software and other investments, are alleged to have defrauded hundreds of people across Australia in scams worth millions of dollars.

The ABC can reveal that officers from the Queensland police anti-bikie taskforce Maxima found suspected links to Mr Featherstone, a former fraud squad detective and one-time head of Surfers Paradise CIB, while investigating fraud allegations against members of the Black Uhlans and Bandidos outlaw motorcycle clubs earlier this year.

Do you know more about this story? Email investigations@abc.net.au

Police raided a number of premises including the Southport offices of Mr Featherstone’s private investigations company Phoenix Global, taking away computer equipment.

They referred the matter to the CCC because of the body’s forensic accounting expertise and the possible involvement of police officers in protecting Mr Featherstone, his clients and associates.

One senior police officer told the ABC: “We realised we can’t have police officers investigating his links with other police.”

I naturally asked, ‘what’s this money for?’ and they said it was ‘just wages, we’re just lining it up before Christmas and this is just wages for staff and profits from the horse racing software’.

UKHBB director Johnny Kane

The CCC has set up an operation called Lima Violin II to investigate fraud allegations involving three companies: UK Home Based Business (UKHBB), Lay Trading Solutions and Pegasus Trader.

However, a parallel investigation by the ABC’s 7.30 program has uncovered evidence of the involvement of Mr Featherstone and Phoenix Global, not only with two of these companies but a range of alleged Gold Coast scams dating back almost 10 years.

They are linked to the Gold Coast private investigator in various ways – through his involvement in recruiting and managing patsy directors on behalf of others, by his own direct role as a director or shareholder, or by his providing advice on how to set up, run and protect such operations.

The ABC has identified dozens of customers of UKHBB who between them lost almost $4 million.

Several have told the ABC they received emails earlier this year saying their accounts had been suspended because of a “software problem”.

But the ABC has established that there was no software problem: the order to close UKHBB came late last year from Phoenix Global.

Correspondence obtained by the ABC shows Phoenix Global recruited and gave day-to-day instructions to the directors of UKHBB and Pegasus Trader to carry out banking and other administrative jobs.

Security guard recruited as UKHBB frontman

Johnny Kane, who works as a security guard, was recruited to be the director of UKHBB.

Security guard Johnny Kane

Security guard Johnny Kane

He has described to the ABC how Mr Featherstone convinced him to be the front-man for UKHBB and other companies, though Mr Featherstone had no official links with these companies and was not part of their management.

Mr Kane said his duties had also included picking up large quantities of cash from the bank and delivering it to the offices of UKHBB and Phoenix Global.

“Before Christmas I was asked to do that for about four days,” Mr Kane said.

“We’re talking $40,000 per cheque, three times a day, for about a week.

“I naturally asked, ‘what’s this money for?’ and they said it was ‘just wages, we’re just lining it up before Christmas and this is just wages for staff and profits from the horse racing software’.”

 

Extract of UKHBB bank statement showing cheque withdrawals Infographic: An extract of a bank statement for UKHBB, showing cheque withdrawals.

In an email from Phoenix Global to Mr Kane dated December 12, Mr Featherstone’s son Zach asked him to “be available to close the UKHB bank accounts on the 24th of December 2013″.

Bank statements show UKHBB collected at least $4 million in fees for trading licences in the second half of last year. More than a quarter of this was received in December.

Almost $500,000 was immediately withdrawn from the account by cheque in round amounts of between $5,000 and $40,000. A few weeks later the account was empty.

Separately, the ABC has established Mr Featherstone and Phoenix Global have played a central role in a series of other race-betting syndicates with a network of associates in Australia and overseas, one of whom is a convicted fraudster.

In an email discussing one such venture, Mr Featherstone wrote earlier this year: “This initiative should raise a lot of $$, but it is important that it is coordinated professionally… you will also need to consider timing and the medium of delivery, so that it doesn’t appear to be a scam or cash grab.”

Other documents show Phoenix Global used the name of someone who never worked at the company to create fake payslips that were used this year to obtain $150,000 of car finance as well as credit cards for one of these race-betting syndicates.

In a statement issued by his lawyers, Mr Featherstone denied any involvement in the running or management of UKHBB or any other race betting or software operation.

He acknowledged the instruction to close the UKHBB account had come from his office but said it was a “risk management” measure because of a “security breach”, without providing further details.

Asked about the fake payslips, Mr Featherstone’s lawyer said his client had provided a statement to police that “a person or persons had unlawfully used its brand to create a false document and forged our client’s signature to gain an advantage

Featherstone delivered speech for high-ranking officer

Who is Michael Featherstone?

Mick Featherstone served in the QPS from 1981 until late 1996.

Called as a witness by the 1997 Carter Inquiry into police involvement in the drug trade, he denied wrongdoing over the alleged disappearance of more than $20,000 in seized drug money while it was in his custody at Southport watch house.

He was also investigated over allegations he planted drugs on a suspect with whom he was personally connected, and his connection to a barrister who was under police investigation. No charges were ever brought against him.

Mr Featherstone resigned from the QPS at age 33. According to the QPS he did so under special arrangements following a recommendation from the Commissioner. Media reports at the time said this allowed him to get a significant payout.

Phoenix Global has provided “compliance” services to a range of companies on the Gold Coast, some of which are race-betting operations registered in Vanuatu.

It specialises in finding and removing adverse or defamatory internet posts about its clients, and offers investigative services to people facing criminal charges.

Mr Featherstone’s clients have included convicted child rapist John Chardon, whose wife Novy is missing, presumed dead; convicted fraudster Glenn Connelly; and Mario Girardo, who was jailed in 2010 over kidnap and extortion.

He has also worked for three-time bankrupt property spruiker and so-called “King Con” Dudley Quinlivan, and is a director of several companies connected to Michael King, who is being prosecuted by ASIC for allegedly acting dishonestly over a $150 million loan.

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading, which licences private investigators, declined to say whether it had ever received complaints about Mr Featherstone or Phoenix Global.

Mr Featherstone has been photographed socialising with senior serving officers, was endorsed online by a Brisbane inspector and even gave a speech at a recent send-off for a high-ranking Gold Coast officer.

According to his lawyer, Mr Featherstone “was asked to make a short speech” at the event, a “farewell retirement for an officer he had served with in the 1980s”.

The lawyer said Mr Featherstone “has no friendship or association with any serving police officer”.

A former detective has told the ABC that he discovered Mr Featherstone’s social links to this high-ranking officer while investigating fraud allegations on the Gold Coast and raised it with his superiors.

“They told me, ‘don’t go there’,” he said.

Mr Featherstone was the subject of a detailed complaint to Queensland’s Crime and Misconduct Commission in 2010 after it emerged he had done the work of Gold Coast police in collecting witness statements in a trespass case where the complainant was one of his clients.

There is no evidence of any action being taken against him.

NSW private investigator Ken Gamble, working on behalf of a group of scam victims, presented a detailed brief of evidence naming Mr Featherstone to the Queensland police fraud squad in 2012, but received no response.

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) said in a statement it had requested further information from Mr Gamble and that it had not been provided.

Mr Gamble said police had never made such a request and the QPS statement was “false and misleading”.

Former nightclub owner alleged to be key figure in scams

A key figure in the scams is alleged to be Phil Cropper, who is said to have been the sales manager of UKHBB and to have run other boiler-room operations linked to Mr Featherstone.

Mr Cropper, a former nightclub owner who was acquitted of an extortion attempt on actor Russell Crowe in 2002, is thought to have fled overseas since the raid on Mr Featherstone’s premises and the ABC has been unable to contact him.

Mr Kane said he now faced bankruptcy because of lawsuits filed against him by victims.

Mr Kane said that while UKHBB was operating he had frequently sought and received reassurance from Mr Featherstone that what he was being asked to do was legal.

He said his home had been raided by police in February and he had later been shocked to find how widely known Mr Featherstone’s activities were on the Gold Coast.

“When I went to Legal Aid to tell them about my story, they finished my story for me. They knew exactly what I was talking about,” he said.

“They rattled off a list of names and said ‘did you work for one of these people?’ and I knew all the names.

“One of the names was Featherstone.”

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Two men jailed for importing $122 million worth of ecstasy from Italy in tomato tins


The drugs were found packed in more than 3,000 tomato tins.

The drugs were found packed in more than 3,000 tomato tins. (Australian Customs)

Related Story: Trio jailed over world’s biggest ecstasy haul

Two men involved in the importation of more than four tonnes of ecstasy hidden in tomato tins have been sentenced to more than 10 years in jail.

Customs officers at the Port of Melbourne intercepted the ecstasy in the form of 15 million tablets hidden in 3,000 tins arriving from Naples, Italy, in 2007.

The drugs, found packed in a shipping container, weighed more than 4.4 tonnes and had an estimated street value of $122 million.

It was the largest haul of ecstasy in the world at the time of the seizure.

In 2012 the drug ring’s leader Pasquale Barbaro was sentenced to life in prison.

South Australian Carmelo Falanga, 49, was today sentenced to 23 years in prison with a minimum sentence of 16 years and six months.

Jon Visser, 63, of New South Wales, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison with a minimum eight years.

Trio jailed over world’s biggest ecstasy haul

Updated Wed 1 May 2013, 8:15am

Trio jailed over ecstasy haul

Jailed drug smugglers (L-R) Salvatore Agresta, John Higgs, and Pasquale Sergi.

Three men have been jailed over their attempt to smuggle the world’s biggest haul of ecstasy into Australia.

A Victorian Supreme Court jury found the trio guilty of conspiring to smuggle more than 15 million ecstasy tablets into Australia from Italy in 2007.

The drugs weighed more than 4.4 tonnes, had an estimated street value of $122 million and were hidden inside tomato tins.

At the time of the seizure, it was the largest haul of ecstasy in the world.

Pasquale Sergi, Salvatore Agresta and John Higgs were sentenced to a combined total of 40 years in jail.

“You were all involved in a crime in which every one was playing for the highest stakes we have ever known in this country,” Justice Betty King said.

“That of obtaining possession of 15 million plus tablets of ecstasy

“You must have all been aware of the risk and the consequences of [your] involvement.

“You chose to take that risk and now you must all bear the consequences.”

Higgs, 65, who has a criminal history including a conviction for manslaughter, was sentenced to 18 years in jail with a non-parole period of 14 years.

Agresta, 44, who ran an Ascot Vale Deli where gangland identity Des Moran was shot dead in 2009, was sentenced to 12 years in jail to serve at least 8 years.

Sergi, 49, was sentenced to 10 years in jail, to serve a minimum 6 years and 9 months.

A fourth man who can not be named has also been jailed over the conspiracy.

The two ringleaders, New South Wales men Pasquale Barbaro and Saverio Zirilli, have already been jailed.

Drug dealer sentenced to life for world’s largest ecstasy haul

Updated Fri 25 May 2012, 9:05am AEST

It can now be revealed that drug king-pin Pasquale Barbaro, of Griffith, in New South Wales, is serving a life sentence for importing the world’s biggest ecstasy haul into Australia.

A suppression order on the sentence was lifted today, after a jury found four of his co-accused guilty of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of MDMA.

Barbaro, 50, originally of Griffith, in NSW, pleaded guilty to charges including the importation of 15 million ecstasy tablets.

The drugs, which were estimated to be worth at least $122 million, were hidden in cans labelled as “peeled tomatoes” from Italy.

Barbaro will serve a minimum term of 30 years in jail.

In sentencing, Justice King said he was at the top of a “very well organised worldwide criminal group”.

“You, Pasquale Barbaro were at the apex of that criminality, at the very top of the tree in this country,” she said.

“Your purpose in attempting to possess the goods was to ensure financial riches of a quite astronomical order.”

Barbaro’s co-accused, Saverio Zirilli, 55, was sentenced to 26 years in jail with a minimum of 18 years.

Both men were also convicted of attempted possession of nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine, hidden in bags of Columbian coffee beans.

Four others have been found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to possess a commercial quantity of MDMA.

Ecstasy life sentence appeal rejected

Posted Thu 20 Dec 2012, 4:40pm AEDT

A man who was involved in Australia’s biggest ecstasy haul has failed to have his sentence reduced by Victoria’s Court of Appeal.

Pasquale Barbaro was charged after millions of ecstasy tablets hidden in tomato cans, were intercepted by Australian Federal Police in 2008.

Barbaro was given a life term in February with a non-parole period of 30 years, but appealed against the severity of the sentence.

The appeal was rejected last month, and can be reported now because a non-publication order has been lifted.

Police raid Box Hill property and seize $15m worth of drugs


Detectives from the Drug Squad have seized more than $15 million worth of illicit drugs,

Detectives from the Drug Squad have seized more than $15 million worth of illicit drugs, arrested two men and shut down a large clandestine laboratory. Photo courtesy of NSW Police. Source: Supplied

More than $15 million worth of drugs, including 70,000 MDMA tablets, have been seized after police uncovered a clandestine lab in Sydney.

Detectives stopped a car on Wednesday in Box Hill, north west of Sydney, and arrested two men, a 35-year-old from Bondi and 24-year-old from Cranebrook.

Police raided a nearby property and allegedly uncovered a large scale drug lab and one kilogram of the drug ice.

Detectives from the Drug Squad have seized more than $15 million worth of illicit drugs,

Detectives from the Drug Squad have seized more than $15 million worth of illicit drugs, arrested two men and shut down a large clandestine laboratory following an operation in Sydney on Wednesday and Thursday (2 and 3 July 2014). Photo courtesy of NSW Police. Source: Supplied

Three litres of methylamphetamine oil and more then 200 items used to make ice and MDMA was also found.

Hours later another raid was carried out at a Bondi unit, where police allegedly found 70,000 tablets believed to be MDMA, weighing in at about 17 kilograms.

Officers also found 4kg of MDMA powder, more than 4kg of ice and a ballistics vest in the beachside suburb unit.

Drugs seized following a raid in Box Hill. Photo courtesy of NSW Police.

Drugs seized following a raid in Box Hill. Photo courtesy of NSW Police

Police believe the total potential street value of the drugs is about $15 million.

Both men have been charged with a drug manufacturing, and the Bondi man is also facing drug supply offences.

This year alone NSW police have shut down 44 drug labs.

Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke said officers involved in the major drug haul had been working around the clock.

“That hard work has now been rewarded with a significant quantity of drugs not making it to the street,” the drug squad commander said.

“We will continue to do everything we can to stop illicit drug syndicates profiting at the community’s loss but members of the public need to continue playing their part too.” Both men were refused bail in Parramatta Local Court on Thursday, and will appear in Central Local Court on August 28.

Police uncovered a clandestine drug lab in Box Hill. Photo courtesy of NSW Police.

Police uncovered a clandestine drug lab in Box Hill. Photo courtesy of NSW Police.

Five charged after meth valued at $180 million found in kayaks


February 12, 2014

POLICE have charged five people in Sydney over the importation of an estimated $180 million worth of methamphetamine concealed inside kayaks sent from China.

Customs allegedly found about 183kg of the illegal drug on Wednesday last week after X-raying 27 kayaks that had entered Australia.

The tests showed 19 of the kayaks contained packages with methamphetamine inside.

Concealed ... one of the imported kayaks carrying the meth into Australia.

Concealed … one of the imported kayaks carrying the meth into Australia.

Australian Federal Police on Tuesday allowed the kayaks to be delivered to a Sydney storage facility, where they arrested four Taiwanese nationals.

Three of the men, aged 21, 30 and 35, were charged with possessing a commercial quantity of drugs and the fourth, a 28-year-old woman, was charged with drug importation.

Police later arrested a 32-year-old Kensington man at his home and charged him with attempting to import the drugs.

Customs regional director Tim Fitzgerald said the 183kg of crystal meth was found in watertight areas inside the kayaks.

There were also a number of life jackets inside the boats that may have been put there to misdirect the attention of any searches, he added.

“It’s fair to say that any item coming into Australia can be used to hide narcotics,’’ he told reporters in Sydney today.

“Previously through airports, we’ve seen narcotics concealed inside surfboards.”

Mr Fitzgerald said that in the past 14 months, Customs had found more than 1000kg of meth in liquid and crystal form.

He said the drug was a “significant problem’’ for border protection authorities and a significant amount came from China.

Australian Federal Police Sydney manager Ray Johnson said people accused of drug hauls of the amount found in the kayaks could expect to face around 15 years in jail if found guilty.

The kayaks were inspected at the Sydney Container Examination Facility.

David John Alton, 32, who was charged with importing a commercial quantity of drugs, appeared before Sydney’s Central Local Court today and was refused bail.

The matter was adjourned until April 9 before the same court.

Meng-Chih Shih, 30, Zhao Xiung Huang, 35, and Chien Khih Kuo, 21, also appeared before Central Local Court today and had their bail formally refused.

Court documents show the men resided in the same Sydney CBD address.

Chieh-Wei Lin, 28, from another Sydney CBD address, also had her bail refused.

They are all due to return to court on April 9.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison today congratulated Customs for preventing the methamphetamine from reaching the streets.

He said the Federal Government had provided $88 million of additional funding to Customs to increase screening of international mail, air cargo and sea cargo to stop illegal firearms and drugs getting in.

“Inspection rates of international mail and air cargo will increase by 25 and 33 per cent respectively and the examination of sea cargo in the major ports of Sydney and Melbourne will increase by nearly 20 per cent,’’ the minister said in a statement.

That would result in an additional 1500 containers being physically examined by Customs officers, he said.