ICE BREAK­ERS

SUB­UR­BAN DRUG GANG SMASHED

Herald Sun - - FRONT PAGE - CASSIE ZERVOS AND DAVID HUR­LEY

A MA­JOR ice and gun traf­fick­ing ring has been smashed af­ter heav­ily armed po­lice swooped on a dozen prop­er­ties across Vic­to­ria yes­ter­day.

In a se­ries of dawn raids of­fi­cers from sev­eral spe­cial­ist po­lice units, in­clud­ing the elite Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Group, ar­rested 14 peo­ple.

The dra­matic oper­a­tion fol­lowed a year-long in­quiry which had ini­tially be­gun as a low-level drug-deal­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Dan­de­nong.

Po­lice seized more than 500 grams of methy­lam­phetamine, two litres of GHB and more than 100 pre­scrip­tion pills. The drugs could have been worth hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars had they reached Vic­to­ria’s streets, and po­lice last night were con­fi­dent they had struck a ma­jor blow against the city’s ice deal­ers.

Al­most 100 po­lice of­fi­cers ex­e­cuted a dozen search war­rants across Mel­bourne and coun­try Vic­to­ria.

A lux­ury home in Brighton was among the premises raided, and po­lice were last night also search­ing a prop­erty in the ski re­sort vil­lage of Din­ner Plain, close to Mt Hotham.

“We have lo­cated four or five firearms there,” De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Mick Daly told the Her­ald Sun.

Re­volvers, shot­guns, ri­fles, au­to­matic weapons and am­mu­ni­tion were seized in the raids, as were a num­ber of other banned weapons in­clud­ing swords, Tasers and knuck­le­dusters.

“Un­for­tu­nately drugs and vi­o­lence go hand-in-hand, so it is good we have got these guns off the street,” Det Insp Daly said.

He said at this stage there was no ev­i­dence to sug­gest the in­volve­ment of out­law mo­tor­cy­cle gangs, but the in­quiry was con­tin­u­ing.

Det Insp Daly said the Dan­de­nong di­vi­sional re­sponse unit had be­gun a small in­ves­ti­ga­tion last year af­ter re­ceiv­ing in­for­ma­tion on lo­cal drug deal­ing. “It (the in­ves­ti­ga­tion) has built up sig­nif­i­cantly,” he said.

“We have spent 12 months look­ing at the key play­ers and build­ing an in­tel­li­gence pic­ture. It is a small net­work of peo­ple who in­ter­act with each other for the pur­poses of traf­fick­ing drugs and firearms.

“We are very happy with the out­come, but will con­tinue to in­ves­ti­gate,” Det Insp Daly said.

Det. Insp Daly said: “We need to an­a­lyse the drugs seized, so it is im­pos­si­ble to put a dol­lar fig­ure on how much it would be worth on the street.”

Po­lice of­fi­cers from across Vic­to­ria joined to­gether as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, dubbed Oper­a­tion Bonito, gath­ered pace in the past few months.

Yes­ter­day al­most 100 po­lice from Crime Com­mand, the Casey Crime In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit, the Greater Dan­de­nong CIU, the South­ern Metro Crime Team, the Front­line Tac­ti­cal Unit, the SOG, the Crit­i­cal In­ci­dent Re­sponse Team and the Dog Squad launched the raids.

The raids were in Hal­lam, Cran­bourne North, Clyde North, Bentleigh East, Footscray, Bayswa­ter, Dan­de­nong North, and Brighton.

Six men, aged 26, 44, 29, 26, 34 and 40, were charged with of­fences in­clud­ing traf­fick­ing a com­mer­cial quan­tity of am­phet­a­mines, traf­fick­ing firearms, pos­sess­ing a drug of de­pen­dence and pos­sess­ing un­reg­is­tered firearms.

Three women, aged 54, 27 and 41, were charged with of­fences re­lat­ing to traf­fick­ing. A Brighton woman was charged on sum­mons with pos­sess­ing a pro­hib­ited weapon.

Some of those ar­rested faced Dan­de­nong Mag­is­trates’ Court yes­ter­day.

Four other peo­ple ar­rested were be­ing in­ter­viewed by po­lice last night.

Po­lice carry firearms and other items seized dur­ing yes­ter­day’s raids (main and above).

Po­lice li carry out yes­ter­day’s Oper­a­tion Bonito drug and firearms raids across Mel­bourne (top, above and right).

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