Dubai extraditions over $150m drug import

·3-min read

Two men who fled Australia six years ago have been extradited from Dubai, accused of being part of an international syndicate that has imported almost three tonnes of drugs into Australia with an estimated street value of $150 million.

NSW Police said the arrests wrap up an eight-year investigation into a vast transnational criminal syndicate and officers attached to Strike Force Millstream recently travelled to Dubai to extradite the pair.

In December 2013, detectives from the State Crime Command's Organised Crime Squad, together with the NSW Crime Commission, established the strike force to investigate the large-scale supply of prohibited drugs - mainly MDMA and methamphetamine (ice) - in NSW.

Police uncovered a significant transnational drug importation and money laundering operation, as well as other organised criminal activity.

So far, 28 people have been charged over their alleged roles in the syndicate, while a further two men were apprehended in Dubai in June last year.

Since that time, NSW Police has been working with international law enforcement and Commonwealth agencies to seek the extradition of the men - aged 36 and 38 - to Australia.

The men were extradited from Dubai, landing at Sydney International Airport late on Wednesday night.

The pair were taken to the Sydney Police Centre and charged with three counts of conspiracy to import commercial quantity of border-controlled drug, conspiracy to traffic in commercial quantity of controlled drug, and conspiracy to deal in proceeds of crime worth more than $1 million.

The maximum penalty for the drug-related offences is life imprisonment, while the money laundering offence carries a maximum penalty of 25 years.

Police will allege in court the men facilitated the importation of 2.8 tonnes of prohibited drugs on numerous occasions between 2013 and 2014.

They were refused bail to appear at Central Local Court on Thursday.

State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said the resolution of the investigation was testament to the patience and work ethic of those involved.

"Almost 100 officers attached to State Crime Command worked with law enforcement partners around the world - notably Dubai Police, AFP International Command, the NSW Crime Commission, ABF, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Commonwealth Attorney General, and Interpol - to see this investigation through," he said on Thursday.

Police have laid 155 charges relating primarily to the distribution and supply of illicit drugs into NSW - seizing more than $6 million in cash.

Police will allege the men played a significant role in the facilitation of an estimated 2.8 tonnes of methylamphetamine into NSW, coordinated from Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

"The message to those involved in transnational organised crime is now very clear; you cannot flee Australia for a life of opulence in the UAE as we will come for you and hold you accountable for the crimes committed on our shores," Mr Smith said.

The support provided by Dubai's law enforcement was crucial, he said.

Five officers attached to State Crime Command's Organised Crime Squad joined the AFP, ABF, and Australia's Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Heidi Venamore, in a service recognising the efforts of Dubai Police.

Lieutenant General Abdulla Khalifa Al Marri of Dubai Police was presented with the NSW Police Force Commissioner's Commendation for Service, while another 24 officers received a Commissioner's Unit Citation for their help.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jane Dickinson said Dubai Police arrested the men in June 2020, days after receiving the INTERPOL Red Notice.

"NSW Police Organised Crime Squad are to be congratulated on their diligence and perseverance in pursuing the two men after they fled Australia in 2015," she said.

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