Police seize cash, drugs, weapons in raids

·3-min read

Fifteen men have been charged after police targeted a "who's who" of bikies and organised crime figures across Sydney's southwest.

Strike Force Hawk officers seized stolen cars and illegal drugs in an operation last week.

The strike force was established in October after Toufik and Salim Hamze were gunned down in a parked ute on a street at Guildford in Sydney's west.

The father and son are among 13 people who have been shot dead in underworld violence over the past 19 months.

More than 80 firearms and 3300 rounds of ammunition, $2.9 million in cash, and prohibited drugs worth more than $9 million have been seized by the strike force.

More than 400 people have been arrested and more than 1200 charges laid.

"It's been a fairly significant impact on the activities of organised crime," Raptor Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Jason Weinstein said on Monday.

Firearm prohibition orders (FPO) were used for 52 searches last week.

Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said police targeted "the who's who of criminality in Sydney's southwest".

"You'd be hard-pressed to find someone in that world who didn't get a home visit," he said.

The FPO, and a similar order targeting drug supply, allow police to stop and search someone without applying for a separate warrant.

"I like to call it lawful harassment," Det Supt Weinstein said.

"We don't do anything that's not in constricts of the laws we have in this state, which are quite powerful," he said.

Police seized around $150,000, 1.5kg of cannabis, 150 grams of methylamphetamine, numerous prohibited weapons and three stolen cars during last week's operation.

A total of 15 men were charged.

Seven men were arrested after a clandestine drug lab allegedly making ice and processing heroin was discovered at Lansvale on Friday.

Several have been charged with commercial drug supply over the lab, Det Supt Weinstein said.

Others will face proceeds of crime charges, while one man was charged with contravening a weapons prohibition order.

Strike Force Hawk is one of several overseen by Taskforce Erebus, recently established to co-ordinate multiple operations targeting organised crime.

"If we take a crime group out ... there's a next one waiting to rise into the void that's been left," Det Supt Weinstein said.

Police are already beginning to target those looking to be the next big players, but stopping the source of the conflict is up to everyone.

"Drugs, and the cash that flows from that is at the heart of what these people and groups are fighting for," Det Supt Weinstein said.

"Society is the consumer of prohibited drugs, and that fuels the violence."

Meanwhile, the NSW Labor opposition has accused the state government of failing to introduce laws on "unexplained wealth".

The laws would allow the NSW Crimes Commission to seize the assets of suspected criminals unable to explain where their "Maseratis, Ferraris, waterside homes and Rolex wristwatches" came from.

NSW Law Society president Joanne van der Plaat says police already have ample power to confiscate criminal assets and any new laws must rely on clear evidence and careful consideration.

"This could require a person who may have absolutely no connection with the drug trade, or any other criminality, to prove their wealth was not the result of criminal activity."

Any proposal that could reverse the onus of proof would be of most concern, Ms van der Plaat said on Sunday.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said targeting unexplained wealth was complex and police and the government were working on it.

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