A major criminal ring at Port Botany has been busted with 18 people arrested and charged with over 80 offences after the conclusion of an investigation that began in May 2014. According to a joint statement from Federal and State police, along with Customs and the Crime Commission, Operation Apteria began when the task force began investigating an individual who worked on the waterfront at Port Botany. However, it appeared the person was working with, or in concert, with others. “The investigation then expanded to target a number of associated persons who it will be alleged were involved in drug trafficking, weapon possession and supply and drug cultivation,” the joint statement reads. It added that 20 search warrants have been executed in Sydney and on the NSW south coast. Evidence of drug trafficking and importation has been seized from the homes of several suspects. “From one small piece of information, this investigation expanded to see dozens of charges laid, weapons seized and drugs and cash confiscated,” the joint statement reads. Outcomes from the operation included:

  • 18 persons charged with 81 offences;
  • seizure of 73kg of prohibited drugs, 31kg of precursors and 150 cannabis plants;
  • seizure of 14,600 cigarettes;
  • seizure of $893,139 in cash believed to be the proceeds of crime; and
  • seizure of 22 firearms and in excess of 3000 rounds of ammunition.

The 81 offences that the 18 men were charged with relate to:

  • the supply, possession and manufacture of prohibited drugs and precursors;
  • possession of instructions and apparatus for the manufacture of prohibited drugs;
  • possession of unregistered or prohibited firearms and supply of firearms;
  • possession of ammunition without authority;
  • possession of stolen goods;
  • possession of property, the proceeds of crime;
  • possession of explosives;
  • directing the activities of a criminal group;
  • participation in a criminal group and contribution to criminal activity;
  • recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime; and
  • hindering an investigation.

“Investigations into the criminal syndicate continue and further arrests may occur,” the joint statement reads.