SUBURBAN DRUG GANG SMASHED
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).