A major operation involving over 450 NSW Police officers led to the arrest of 28 people connected to a Lebanese crime syndicate in Sydney. The raid, carried out across the west and south of the city, executed 43 warrants and produced significant findings. The alleged underworld gang is accused of engaging in money laundering activities and trafficking drugs, firearms, and tobacco, with estimated transactions worth over $1 billion.
During the operation, law enforcement officials confiscated an impressive haul, including two tons of drugs, 25 firearms, 60 encrypted devices, luxury vehicles, a jet ski, and a substantial amount of cash. Among the seized items were high-value watches, such as an $8,000 Breitling Chronomat Evolution and a $3,000 U-Boat. However, authorities discovered that one watch, claimed to be a Richard Millle, was a counterfeit.
In a cooperative effort with Lebanese officials, Australian police successfully secured the arrest of Bilal Haouchar, a notorious criminal and one of Australia's most wanted men, along with four of his associates. However, confirmation of Haouchar's arrest by Lebanese authorities is still pending, and his extradition to Australia remains uncertain due to the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries.
Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police, David Hudson, applauded the determination of law enforcement in pursuing criminals across borders. He emphasized that there are no longer safe havens for those attempting to escape justice.
Haouchar's brother, Nedal, was the initial arrest made in the operation, detained at Sydney International Airport before attempting to leave the country. He has already appeared in court facing multiple charges, including drug supply and directing the activities of a criminal group.
All 28 individuals arrested, aged between 23 and 46, now face a total of 69 significant charges, ranging from driving offenses to the distribution of large quantities of prohibited drugs. The majority of the arrested individuals were denied bail after their court appearances.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald asserted that the dismantling of the syndicate, which had plagued Sydney for the past decade, marked a significant achievement for law enforcement. The head of the investigation, Detective Superintendent Peter Faux, emphasized the extensive resources employed during the operation, including covert tactics and blockchain specialists to trace over $1.5 billion worth of cryptocurrency transactions linked to the gang.
With this extensive raid and the subsequent arrests, Australian authorities hope to make a significant dent in the criminal activities of the Lebanese crime syndicate, ensuring a safer future for New South Wales.