Dubai arrests five in 3-nation crackdown on drug cartel
17 prime suspects and drugs worth $642m netted in UAE, Australia and Netherlands
The Dubai Police have arrested five men as part of a multinational effort to disrupt two interlinked drug rings suspected of moving large amounts of narcotics to Australia, it was announced on Tuesday.
In simultaneous raids, nine men and a woman were arrested in Sydney, along with the five in Dubai. The raids were followed up in the Netherlands, where two more men were arrested. They were thought to be responsible for arranging the supply of drugs to the Australia-based syndicate.
The raid - which involved a total of 52 search warrants and 32 different house raids in Sydney - is being called one of the largest attacks on organised crime in Australian history.
A total of 1.8 tonnes of MDMA, more commonly known as ecstacy, were seized, along with 136kg of cocaine, 15kg of crystal methamphetamine and millions of dollars in cash in Australia and the Netherlands. Australian Federal Police (AFP) officials estimate the drugs would have been worth $642 million if sold on the street in Australia.
"The people we allege are part of this syndicate are Middle Eastern organised crime figures that are well-known to law enforcement, and for decades this group has flaunted their wealth and activities, telling the community they were untouchable," AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan said in a statement. "Today, it should be obvious that they are not."
According to Gaughan, the investigation began in mid-2016 and was designed to target organised crime groups involved in the large-scale trafficking of drugs and tobacco.
Among the "strong" international partners that helped make the arrests possible, according to the AFP, are the UAE Ministry of Justice, the Dubai Public Prosecution and the Dubai Police.
"A united response from law enforcement and partner agencies in Australia and overseas is critical to our efforts to dismantle organised criminal networks" Gaughan said.
The State Crime Command of the New South Wales Police Force - where many of the drugs were suspected to be headed - said that police will continue to target anyone who commits crime that impacts the community there.
"The safety of the people of NSW is paramount, and along with our law enforcement partners - both here and abroad - we will do everything in our power to ensure that safety is maintained," he said. "In addition to dismantling these criminal syndicates and the seizure of a significant amount of drugs before it even reached the country, investigators have seized firearms, which will also reduce the risk of harm to our community."
According to Australian media reports, the five men arrested in Dubai were dining together when they were taken into custody by police. Two of the men - Michael and Fadi Ibrahim, younger brother of Kings Cross nightclub owner John Ibrahim - are reportedly involved with the Australia-based 'Kings of the Cross Gang', which was the subject of the Australian television show "Underbelly".
According to the reports, a third detainee, Koder Jomaa, operates the Fit Food Kitchen in Dubai's Jumeirah Lake Towers. The Australian Attorney-General's Department and the Commonwealth Director of Public prosecutions are now working with UAE authorities to have the suspects extradited back to face justice in Australia.
Major General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said the raids are in line with the "vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to create a society in which all its members are safe and secure."
This mission, Al Marri added, is a powerful motivator that drives employees of the Dubai Police to do their best to maintain security and discipline in the community, to protect it from both internal or external dangers.
Al Marri also praised the directives of Lt. Gen. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, to develop relations between the UAE and other countries to combat drug trafficking locally, regionally and internationally.
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