Cross-border crime network busted in raids

·3-min read

Police have seized millions of dollars worth of illicit drugs, dismantled a clandestine drug lab and discovered an underground bikie clubhouse during a major operation targeting organised crime in NSW and Queensland.

Operation Viking, launched 12 days ago, led to police confiscating $4.5 million in drugs - including cocaine, methylamphetamine and cannabis - $150,000 in cash, seven firearms, luxury cars and jewellery.

NSW Police launched Operation Viking to target organised crime networks operating across the Northern Rivers and Gold Coast border towns, leading to the discovery of a drug lab and significant amounts of chemicals used to manufacture drugs.

The Australian Federal Police played a key role due to its ability to gather intelligence across state lines, AFP assistant commissioner Lesa Gale said.

"Our message is simple. We will not stop in our mission to outsmart you and to protect the Australian community," she told media on Saturday.

NSW acting assistant commissioner Jason Weinstein said the two-week covert operation was aimed at better understanding organised crime in the border area.

"We know criminal organisations were establishing themselves across the north coast because of its lucrative drug market and a perceived idea the area is relatively free of scrutiny from law enforcement," he said.

The operation allowed police to gain a deeper understanding of the degree of ill-gotten wealth in the area, and the illicit trades made by organised crime groups, he said.

Mr Weinstein said the Pacific Highway between Sydney and the Gold Coast is a "drug trade route", and other passages were also known to police, including from northern Queensland through to the Gold Coast.

"The reality was the people who were targeted in this operation over the last two weeks all reside in this catchment area," he said.

"Our point of view, this was probably a first and it's something that will continue until we dismantle all those groups and people who are residing in these areas."

The operation included a search on a Bilambil Heights home occupied by a 36-year-old member of the Mongols bikie gang where police said they found an underground bar festooned with Mongols paraphernalia, a motorbike, alcohol and a price list.

"They've constructed a bunker scenario, and inside that bunker was Mongols memorabilia," Mr Weinstein said.

"That was obviously a location where the Mongols themselves in that particular chapter believe that they were free, being hidden from police where they could congregate, obviously talk about business and socialise."

The items were seized and the bar dismantled.

Police also declared a crime scene after they visited a home at Ewingsdale to a serve a 44-year-old man with a firearm prohibition notice.

Officers later took luxury watches, $10,000 in cash and electronic devices from the man's home.

A 53-year-old Tweed Heads man was charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime and drug offences after police allegedly discovered cannabis, 130 grams of white powder believed to be cocaine and $18,000 in cash at his property.

He was granted conditional bail and will appear in Tweed Heads Local Court next month.

A 27-year-old was charged with firearm offences after police allegedly discovered a loaded rifle at his Tweed Heads home on Tuesday. He will appear in Tweed Heads Local Court in September.

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