Police have broken up a criminal gang that brazenly smuggled more than $8 million worth of cannabis into Queensland through domestic airports.
Police have busted a sophisticated criminal gang they say has smuggled two tonnes of cannabis worth $8 million into Queensland through domestic airports.
A four-month covert operation involving federal, Queensland and Victorian police has broken up two criminal gangs servicing Queensland’s cannabis market.
It’s alleged one of the gangs used airports to smuggle between 20 and 45kg of the drug at a time, from Victoria to Queensland, concealed in luggage.
The police operation, codenamed Lima Wood, involved simultaneous raids in Melbourne, Brisbane and on the Gold Coast over the past two days.
They netted $1 million in cash, and property worth $6 million, including luxury cars.
A total of 85kg of cannabis was seized, along with weapons and drug-making equipment.
One alleged offender was arrested at Brisbane’s domestic airport on Tuesday with about 45kg of cannabis.
The Queensland raids also uncovered two secret underground cannabis bunkers at separate Willow Vale properties.
Another alleged gang member had a loaded handgun when he was arrested in Victoria.
A total of 17 arrests have been made across the two states, with more expected.
They included 12 arrests in Queensland, with six of them also charged under the state’s new Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment (VLAD) laws.
It’s the first time the laws have been used against a criminal organisation that is not an outlaw bikie gang.
One of those six is a 33-year-old man from Pimpama in Queensland, who’s also accused of being the boss of one of the two gangs.
Detective Superintendent Mick Niland, head of Queensland’s anti-gang Taskforce Maxima, said he was not surprised syndicates were brazenly smuggling drugs through domestic terminals.
“They are always coming up with different methods,” he said.
Supt Niland said airport staff were not involved in the crime.
Assistant Commissioner Brett Pointing said the busts would cripple Queensland’s drug market, causing street prices for the cannabis to skyrocket.
“Two tonnes of cannabis is a significant amount of drugs that’s been injected into the Queensland community,” he told reporters.
“I think these raids alone will have a big impact on the cannabis drug trade in Queensland in terms of getting drugs off the street.”