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Police's 'Big Net' raids disorganise crime syndicates

Police are planning a series of massive raids on organised crime groups after recent successful operations against outlaw bikies and a Middle Eastern crime cell.

The new tactic of using up to 700 police in simultaneous raids on more than 60 suspect locations has uncovered drugs, cash, explosives, evidence of sophisticated criminal conspiracies and what detectives say is a disturbing number of high-powered firearms.

The ''Big Net'' raids are designed to arrest primary and secondary targets while preventing associates destroying or hiding evidence in syndicate safe houses.

Specialist units hit high-risk properties, while uniformed and plain-clothes police move on designated suspects. Those arrested are taken to pre-arranged stations to be interviewed while asset identification experts seize suspected proceeds of crime.

''These operations require a statewide commitment of resources and come at a significant cost,'' said Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Steve Fontana. ''We are very happy with the results we have achieved so far.''

Mr Fontana said police had identified organised crime groups that would be the target of similar operations. These are likely to include ''ice'' and amphetamine syndicates, sophisticated cannabis hydroponic cartels, Vietnamese heroin groups, bikie gangs and stolen vehicle rings.


In October police raided 59 properties connected with the Hells Angels in Operation Resound, in February 63 Comanchero properties (Crosswings), and last week 45 addresses allegedly connected with the Haddara crime family (Skyborne).

''Our intelligence shows that these jobs really rattle the crooks,'' Mr Fontana said.

He said police had seized weapons ranging from handguns to high-powered, military-style firearms used in drive-by shootings.

''It is certainly a matter of concern to us the number of guns that have found their way into the hands of criminals. We need to get guns off the streets.''

Most taskforce raids aim at arresting a few key targets and involve searching a handful of properties. But the Big Net operations require co-operation from regional police who are called in to conduct the raids based on evidence gathered by taskforce detectives from the crime department.

''We impress on our people that if there are any leaks the risks rise dramatically. None of these jobs have been compromised,'' Mr Fontana said.

''We don't go in blind to these sort of operations. We gather the evidence and conduct risk assessments. We have to convince a magistrate to issue warrants before we can move.''

Police say the tactic is having a flow-on effect with some suspect groups fearing they may be about to be raided.

''We know that some gangs have been cleaning out some premises because they have been wrongly tipped off that they may be next,'' Mr Fontana said.

''And we know some bikie feeder groups are having second thoughts of getting involved with the major gangs and have been having trouble recruiting new members.''