Australian Federal Police and the FBI have smashed an industrial-scale drug trafficking ring in what’s being described as the plot of the century.
The audacious police sting targeted an encrypted communications app that was being secretly monitored by police, leading to hundreds of arrests of organised crime figures in 18 countries.
Mafia figures, bikies, South American drug cartels, Asian triads and Middle Eastern and European crime syndicates are alleged to be caught up in the sting.
Police said they uncovered 21 murder plots and seized more than 3,000 kilograms of drugs and $35 million in cash.
Over 800 suspected members of organised crime gangs were arrested and $148 million in cash seized in raids around the world. Tons of drugs were also seized, officials confirmed.
Police say they were using the trojan horse app ANOM that was operated by the FBI and secretly monitored by the Australian Federal Police.
The app was used by organised crime gangs around the world to plan executions, mass drug importations and money laundering.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the mass raids and arrests struck a heavy blow against organised crime.
The plan is said to have been hatched by an AFP tech guru in 2018, with the AFP planting pre-loaded mobile phones into the hands of criminals.
Investigators intercepted 25 million messages sent on the ANOM, viewing the communications in real time.
300 search warrants were carried out across Australia on Monday night, with simultaneous stings in the US and Europe, according to reports from the ABC.
Police say they have exposed the secret relationships between bikies and syndicates who were thought to be enemies.
“This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history”
SYDNEY:The Prime Minister was joined by Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw and FBI Legal Attaché US Embassy Anthony Russo to speak on ‘Operation Ironside’, a three-year sting involving the FBI, organised crime and an encrypted app.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the operation had “struck a heavy blow against organised crime. Not just in this country, but one that will echo around organised crime around the world”.
“We have never taken our eye a day from the threats presented in this country”
Morrison has reiterated calls for stronger border security and anti-encryption laws off the back of Operation “Ironside.”
“The most significant policing operation in Australian history”
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews called Operation Ironside “the most significant policing operation in Australian history”.
Worldwide, 9000 law enforcement officials were involved in the operation, with over 4500 of those officials being Australian Federal Police.
Commissioner Kershaw said federal agents had been in the “back pockets” of criminals through the encryption app.
Commissioner Kershaw said federal agents have arrested some “of the most dangerous criminals in Australia”
Commissioner Kershaw confirmed criminal “kingmakers” have been arrested and AFP have prevented mass shootings.
The plan that began over beers
“Some of the best ideas come over a couple of beers,” AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said in his address to media on Tuesday.
The FBI’s representative Anthony Russo says he’s proud to represent the US and stand with his Australian colleagues.
“In today’s world, crime continues to transverse international borders. The threats we face are too diverse and too complex for any one organisation to tackle alone,”Russo said.
Wall street soars, investors countdown key Fed meeting.
Investors appear to be buying what the Federal Reserve is selling at the minute, that is they’re shrugging off those pesky inflation concerns.
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 hit fresh record-highs ahead of the Fed meeting this week.
VFS Group’s James Whelan says there’s one key question in all of this.
“Will the Fed care about the market reaction? That’s the playbook for the next six months. Inflation, Fed response, market response to the Fed, and then will the market actually care? We’ve had four years of the Fed caring about everything the market did.”JAMES WHELAN, VFS GROUP
The four years Whelan’s referring to are the Donald Trump years, where the former President often boasted of how strongly Wall Street performed.
But not everyone trusts the central bank right now, billionaire hedge funder Paul Tudor Jones is cynical.
“He (Tudor) called the stock market crash in ’87. History is on his side for calling big things. He’s saying if he doesn’t see any sort of commentary from the Fed this week, he’s going all-in on every inflationary hedge there is”DANIEL WEINER, MARKET STRATEGIST
Expectations remain that the central bank will hold tight, and keep pace with their bond purchases.
James King of AFEX says the amount of stimulus that’s entered the market over the last 18 months is extraordinary.
“The last 18 months or so there’s been a meteoric rise in the Fed’s balance sheet. From four trillion dollars to almost eight trillion dollars in an 18 month period”
The next update is due Wednesday US time, and all investors will be watching.
The nation part of the first trade deal since Brexit
The broad terms of a trade deal between the UK and Australia have been agreed on.
The Australian Prime Minister had a working dinner with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Downing Street last night, with a formal announcement expected on Tuesday.
According to the BBC, the meal served up to the pair on Monday evening included Welsh lamb and Scottish smoked salmon, and was washed down with Australian wine.
It is the first trade deal to be negotiated from scratch since the UK left the EU.
The new deal is expected to give UK and Australian food producers and other businesses easier access to each other’s markets.
However, the leaders were initially stuck on several issues, including a plan by the British to add tariffs to Australian farming imports for the next ten years.
Behind the scenes, bureaucrats have been working frantically to reach a deal, and now both leaders are believed to have made concessions.
The new trade deal is expected to give UK and Australian food producers and other businesses easier access to each other’s markets.
According to the National Farmers Union (NFU), Australian farmers are able to produce beef at a lower cost of production, and could undercut farmers in the UK.
Australia’s top 10 export markets
Australia’s biggest export products by value in 2020 were iron, coal, petroleum gases, gold and aluminium. In aggregate, those major exports account for 63.1% of overall exports sales from Australia.
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Australian global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Australia.
- Ores, slag, ash: US$91.3 billion (35.9% of total exports)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $65.4 billion (25.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $19.6 billion (7.7%)
- Meat: $10.4 billion (4.1%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $5.2 billion (2%)
- Machinery including computers: $4.4 billion (1.7%)
- Cereals: $3.8 billion (1.5%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $3.4 billion (1.4%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $3.1 billion (1.2%)
- Aluminum: $3.1 billion (1.2%)
Australian future unclear for detained family of asylum seekers
A family of Tamil asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island since 2019 will be reunited in Australia.
The Murugappan family have been separated as youngest daughter Tharnicaa undergoes treatment in a Perth hospital, but their long-term future in Australia remains unclear.
“Today’s decision releases the family from held detention and facilitates ongoing treatment, while they pursue ongoing litigation before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Court and High Court.”Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said in a statement.
“Importantly, today’s decision does not create a pathway to a visa.”
WA Health had requested they be reunited while she receives treatment.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed the move but it remains unknown if they will be granted new visas.
The family were removed from their home in Biloela in 2018 when their visas expired.
The family has been separated for more than a week after Tharnicaa and her mother were flown from Christmas Island to Perth.
Three-year-old Tharnicaa is believed to have developed a blood infection while in detention on Christmas Island.
“This is not ok, it needs to end”
Last week Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Ticker News “This is just not ok and it needs to end”
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