Dangerous criminals living the high life from bankrolling corruption, illicit drug trafficking and money laundering are being targeted under a new supercharged operation between the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force (NSWPF) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).
Operation Phobetor is the latest capability strike against outlaw motorcycle gangs, triads, cartels, Italian organised criminals and other syndicate members who pose the greatest threat to NSW.
Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews and NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott today revealed the new taskforce, which commenced their operations on 11 October 2021.
Comprising agency elites and based at the AFP’s Eastern Command Headquarters in Sydney, Operation Phobetor will focus on known criminal entities and identify likely criminal groups previously unknown to law enforcement.
Intelligence ‘packages’ collated from world-leading technical capability and coercive hearings, and through the use of unique Commonwealth and state legislation, will also be referred to relevant agencies for overt action.
Using the unparalleled resources of three agencies, the team of 20 is developing intelligence and building criminal cases against offenders who launder money and traffic illicit guns and drugs into NSW.
Criminals who are attempting to pay-off or blackmail individuals in the public and private sector to facilitate crime are also a priority under the taskforce.
Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said the taskforce would target outlaw motorcycle gangs, triads, cartels, organised criminals and other syndicate members who pose the highest threat to NSW.
“The Morrison Government is serious about proving the adage ‘crime doesn’t pay’; under Operation Phobetor, police will have a particular focus on seizing the ill-gotten gains of serious, organised criminals, including cars, houses, cash, and jewellery,” Minister Andrews said.
“Operation Phobetor will also break open trusted insider networks, crack encrypted communications, and track the movement of the proceeds of crime, using new powers for the AFP and ACIC that passed the Parliament in August.”
NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the partnership will ensure NSW Police Force and their counterparts remain at the forefront of combatting major crime.
“The NSW Government has always recognised the challenges faced by law enforcement when fighting transnational crime, and we will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure we remain ahead of any emerging threat that organised criminal activity has on our communities,” he said
“Operation Phobetor will build on the success of Operation Ironside, to disrupt, investigate and prosecute criminal networks and their partners,”
“This joint-agency agreement provides our state with police that are primed to investigate and prosecute those who seek to profit from the violence and misery inflicted upon others by criminal networks.” Minister Elliott said.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said Operation Phobetor would target criminals who for too long thought they were invisible or untouchable.
“Operation Phebetor, which will access the AFP’s unmatched global reach and extraordinary technical capability, underscores just how hard and dangerous it is for syndicates to target Australia,’’ Commissioner Kershaw said.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the memorandum of understanding builds on an already strong and long-running relationship between Australia’s law enforcement agencies.
“Our relationship with our federal partners has never been stronger. This partnership – utilising state of the art intelligence capabilities from the ACIC – means we are well resourced to deal with the threat of organised criminal activity across NSW and beyond,” he said
“Under this agreement we will also have streamlined asset confiscation and extradition processes, which will allow us to continue our relentless targeting of criminals not just in NSW, but around the world.” Commissioner Fuller said.
ACIC CEO Michael Phelan said working in conjunction with AFP and NSW Police Force on this task force means we are able to extend our reach to target criminal networks in New South Wales which affect Australia’s interest both domestically and internationally.
“Through Operation Phobetor, our unique intelligence capabilities will continue to assist our law enforcement partners in preventing organised crime causing further harm to the Australian community,” he said.