The AFP has joined law enforcement across the country in a week-of-action targeting Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCG) and their criminal networks, resulting in the arrest of an alleged Hells Angels OMCG Chapter President in Sydney.
The nationwide crackdown was coordinated by National Taskforce Morpheus and targeted the alleged illegal activities of OMCG members and their criminal networks, leading to a combined 159 arrests across the country.
Police also seized more than $200,000 in cash, 43 firearms, 22 weapons, 11 vehicles, and various prohibited drugs.
New South Wales
In NSW, the AFP, working with the Australian Tax Office (ATO), executed search warrants on 2 August 2023 at the homes of an alleged Hells Angels OMCG Chapter President in Parramatta and an alleged Hells Angels OMCG associate in Liverpool.
These warrants related to an ongoing joint Operation Protego-Cassowary targeting OMCG members and associates alleged to have been committing GST refund fraud.
The Parramatta man, 35, was arrested and appeared before Parramatta Local Court on 3 August 2023, charged with:
- 6 counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception, contrary to section 134.2(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
- one count of attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception, contrary to section 134.2(1) by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
- one count of conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth, contrary to section 135.4(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
- one count of dealing with proceeds of money or property worth $1,000 or more, contrary to section 400.7 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The maximum penalty for these offences is 10 years’ imprisonment. The man was granted bail to appear at Parramatta Local Court on 29 September 2023.
The Liverpool man, 27, was arrested at his home after police found a pistol and live ammunition on his person upon entering the premises.
He has been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth and unauthorised possession of a pistol. He is scheduled to face court on 29 September 2023.
It can now be revealed an alleged Secretary and Treasurer of the Hells Angels OMCG Chinatown Charter was also arrested in March 2023 as part of Operation Protego-Cassowary for dealing with proceeds of crime and possessing prohibited drugs, namely steroids.
During a search warrant of the Westmead man’s home in March 2023, officers discovered evidence on his mobile phone that linked the man, 38, to the two men charged last week, and exposed the conspiracy between the trio.
The Westmead man was additionally charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth on 4 August 2023. He is scheduled to next appear in Parramatta Local Court on 25 August 2023.
In South Australia, the AFP, with assistance from South Australia Police, executed search warrants on 3 August 2023 as part of an ongoing Operation Ironside investigation into an alleged Comanchero OMCG member, suspected to be involved in the importation of illicit drugs into Australia.
During a search warrant at a Para Hills premises, AFP and South Australia police officers discovered a sophisticated cannabis grow house. Police subsequently seized approximately 30 kilograms of dry cannabis, 20 cannabis plants, $6,000 cash and prohibited weapons. A Para Hills man, 40, was charged with a number of state drug and weapons offences.
In Western Australia, as part of the week of action, the AFP arrested and charged a Dianella man, 37, and a Doubleview woman, 32External Link, for their alleged roles within a criminal syndicate with suspected links to the Hells Angels. It is alleged the syndicate attempted to import 850kg of cocaine into Perth back in June 2023.
While executing search warrants at the pair’s respective homes on 3 August, police located about $90,000 cash hidden in a bathroom cupboard of the man’s home.
AFP Crime Command Detective Superintendent and National Taskforce Morpheus Chair Anthony Conway said OMCGs are the largest serious and organised crime cohort impacting Australia.
“OMCGs remain an ever-present threat to the Australian community, with their extensive criminal networks and high propensity for violence enabling them to play a major role in Australia’s illicit drug market,” he said.
“They are violent, seek illicit wealth and power at any cost, and have zero respect for the law – they consider themselves above it.”
“As part of National Taskforce Morpheus, the AFP brings Commonwealth capabilities and international networks to help disrupt and dismantle OMCGs and their sophisticated criminal networks to better protect the Australian community.”
“The success of this week-of-action should serve as a fresh warning to OMCG members in Australia and those seeking to hideout offshore. We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to protect Australians by causing maximum damage to your criminal operations.”
ATO Deputy Commissioner John Ford said Operation Protego is an investigation into widespread GST fraud.
“The fraud involves offenders inventing fake businesses and Australian business number (ABN) applications, then submitting fictitious Business Activity Statements in an attempt to gain a false GST refund,” Mr Ford said.
“GST fraud is a serious offence. Criminals use the profits they receive to fund further illegal activities. What we’re finding is that our investigations and intelligence into Operation Protego are helping to open doors that enable enforcement agencies to act on broader crimes.
“The outcomes of these activities demonstrate the strength of our partnerships with law enforcement agencies. We know who has committed the fraud, and we’re only one step away from knocking on the next door.”
National Taskforce Morpheus is a joint law enforcement initiative between the AFP and its partners to target and disrupt OMCGs nationally and internationally that pose the great threat to Australia and New Zealand.
Our partners include:
- Australian Border Force
- Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
- Australian Defence Force
- Australian Capital Territory Police
- Australian Taxation Office
- Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
- New South Wales Police Force
- Northern Territory Police
- New Zealand Police
- Queensland Police Service
- Services Australia
- South Australia Police
- Tasmania Police
- Victoria Police
- Western Australia Police
Anyone with information about OMCGs or organised criminal activity should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Information is treated in strict confidence.The AFP and the ATO executed search warrants at the homes of alleged Hells Angels OMCG Chapter President and associate as part of Operation Protego-Cassowary