AFP take down major crime ring dealing in drugs and bags

AUSTRALIAN authorities believe they have dismantled an international organised crime syndicate with links to five countries.

Federal and state officers arrested 27 people and seized more than 42kg of drugs, 99 designer handbags and wallets, $4 million in cash, $5 million worth of residential properties, $600,000 in casino chips, $10,000 worth of jewellery and a Lamborghini.

It came as Australian Federal and Victorian police executed 37 search warrants across Melbourne between Wednesday and Friday, including homes, warehouses, vehicles, shops, accountant offices and security boxes.

Police will allege the syndicate has been targeting Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.

Among those arrested was a 49-year-old Tarneit man, a 48-year-old Balwyn man, a 58-year-old Box Hill man, 46-year-old Macleod woman, a 37-year-old Clayton South man and a 21-year-old Sunshine North man.

They have been charged with a range of offences including dealing in the proceeds of crime; trafficking commercial quantities of a border controlled drug, and; importing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug.

Operation Volante, which began last year, has been focused on shutting down a longstanding international organised crime syndicate importing and trafficking substantial quantities of heroin and methamphetamine into and around Australia.

The AFP and Victoria Police had assistance from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, New South Wales Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

Police have executed numerous search warrants since April last year, seized large amounts of drugs, arrested syndicate members across Australia and seized cash and luxury items.

Throughout the operation, the AFP has worked with international law enforcement partners in China, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Hong Kong.

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