Victoria‘s Biggest Drug Raid in Victoria’s history? A massive Asian syndicate has been blown wide open? Bloody hell and all on the eve of a State election. 2 years in the making? For weed….Get your asses into gear and catch the real drug barons peddling hard drugs will you for Christ sake.They are the ones killing our kids. heroin. Cocaine, Ice. Sure weed leads to other drugs in some cases but they have carried on like they snared the Columbian King pins in the media… Stop grand standing and intercept the real drugs… That’s my say but here is the story…
UPDATE 3pm: EIGHT thousand plants have now been seized and 43 people arrested in what Victoria Police describes as the biggest set of drug raids in the state’s history.
Police have so far seized 7966 cannabis plants as part of Operation Entity.
Details about the nationalities of those arrested are not yet known, but police earlier today said there were “strong links” between the cannabis-growing cartel and Vietnam, as well as connections with New Zealand.
Police have also confirmed that they suspect some of the drug money generated from the sale of “high potency” marijuana was to be used to buy heroin to import into Australia.
Authorities say they expect more people to be arrested after dozens of homes were raided in the massive co-ordinated drug blitz this morning.
Those arrested are likely to be charged with a range of drug-related offences including cultivate commercial quantity of cannabis, traffick commercial quantity of cannabis and possession.
They are likely to be remanded overnight to face Melbourne Magistrates’ Court tomorrow morning.
The operation, which began about 7am, involved 630 police working with federal counterparts and officials from the taxation and immigration departments.
Police Deputy Commissioner Ken Jones hailed the raids as a blow at the heart of Victoria’s “vile” illegal drug trade.
The raids, codenamed Operation Entity, are still ongoing, with 100 properties expected to be raided by the end of the week.
“This is the biggest single mobilisation of Victoria Police against organised crime to date,” Sir Ken told a press conference this morning.
“Perhaps the greatest scourge in our community is the vile traffic in illicit drugs – lives and neighbourhoods are destroyed while those who profit from this trade like to think their involvement goes on unnoticed.
“I say, think again.”
Sir Ken vowed that those involved, believed to be groups mainly of Vietnamese origin, would be brought to justice.
He also strongly denied suggestions that the raids had been timed to happen in an election week.
“It’s absolute rubbish,” he said.
“We’re here to get justice for people. We’re not going to time our operations to fit any political cycle. The government is not aware of this operation.
“Any fool can go out and bust drug syndicates at the street level.”
But he said to go into “this level of detail” and to (focus on the money) took the investigation to another level.
“Disrupting networks of this sort is significant,” he said.
“This is really good news for Victorians today.”
He said assets worth about $20m has already been seized, and that police “will always follow the money”.
The raids covered properties in the Dandenong, Melton and Footscray areas, as well as regional Horsham, Geelong, Ballarat and Warrnambool.
Across the state this morning, officers were dismantling what appear to be sophisticated hydroponic cannabis growing set-ups in homes and other properties.
In homes such as St Albans, police could be seen removing lights, power supplies, plants and light boxes, as stunned neighbours watched on.
Police believe they have smashed several Vietnamese crime syndicates with global links that had done more than $400 million in illegal business.
They have also seized more thousands cannabis plants with a street value of several million dollars.
Sir Ken said Operation Entity was a two-year strategy involving international connections into organised crime that produced and trafficked high-potency cannabis and other drugs.
“Those involved will be brought to justice and their ill-gotten gains will be seized,” he said.
“Today we will begin a process to bring to book people behind the syndicates who seek to launder drug money.
“Today we have demonstrated that in protecting the community we will do all we can to stand between you and those who seek to exploit and prey upon you.”
The organised crime group producing the cannabis had connections to New Zealand and Vietnam, police Detective Superintendent Gerry Ryan said.
“This operation has been running for at least two years. They are well organised,” he told reporters.
“We’ve got strong connections back to Vietnam. We’ve been working with New Zealand police over that time and we’ve worked with Vietnamese authorities.
“This will take a number of days to resolve. We’ll work through the whole process on a 24-hour basis.”
Most of the $400 million the crime gang made went out of Australia, although some might have come back through the heroin trade, Det Supt Ryan said.
“Victoria Police were following the money trail. This has been very, very successful for us,” he said.
“We’ll continue not only to seize the drugs, but we’ll continue to seize assets throughout the day and later on in the week we’ll apply to the courts for seizure of quite a number of assets across the whole state.”
He described this morning’s drug raids as probably the biggest in Victoria’s history.
Police were ready to begin the raids weeks ago but had been delayed because of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Melbourne.
“We were going to go some time ago. Because of other operational issues that impacted on whole state, in particular Hillary Clinton coming … unfortunately she took precedence over this,” Det Supt Ryan said.
One man was arrested as he walked out of a house on Main Road West in St Albans at about 8.30am.
Shocked neighbours have told how they had no idea of the drug activity happening nearby.
Samantha Bailey said she heard a bang about 8.30am and walked out the front of her house to see police in the street.
“They seemed just like normal people, they were mowing their lawn on the weekend,” Ms Bailey, a mother of three, said.
Police also attended homes in Greens Rd, Wyndham Vale, in Melbourne’s west, and at President Road, Narre Warren South, in Melbourne’s southeast.
SOG officers were involved in some of the raids.
The operation involved sworn and unsworn members from the Drug Task Force, Criminal Proceeds Squad, Crime Department, Operations Response Unit, Regional Response Units and local police, along with members of the AFP.