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25 August, 2021

Multi-agency Taskforce Sentry targets drug and firearm traffickers

Police have released the six-month results of a multi-agency taskforce dismantling criminal networks attempting to import illicit drugs and firearms into Queensland.

Police have released the six-month results of a multi-agency taskforce dismantling criminal networks attempting to import illicit drugs and firearms into Queensland.

Taskforce Sentry comprises of members of QPS’ Crime and Intelligence Command, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Department of Home Affairs, collaborating to gather intelligence, implement investigative strategies and take action against syndicates smuggling and distributing illicit items including through postal and cargo streams.

Established in February 2021, the taskforce has achieved a series of operational results, charging a total of 90 people on 414 offences, including drug trafficking, production and possession charges. Significant quantities of drugs have been seized through taskforce tactical action including over six kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of methylamphetamine, one kilogram of MDMA, 67 litres of GHB and 391kg of cannabis.

These seizures are in addition to over $19 million in drug border seizures referred to Taskforce Sentry for investigation, including border seizures of heroin, methylamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and GHB.

Assistant Commissioner Katherine Innes, Crime and Intelligence Command, said the co-location of taskforce members at Queensland Police headquarters was an important measure in disrupting criminal syndicates and stopping the distribution of drugs and weapons into the Queensland community.

“As a result of excellent cooperation and investigative work, Taskforce Sentry has seized ten firearms, $2.6 million cash and $10.7 million worth of drugs, bringing the total value of drugs seized from criminal networks operating in Queensland to close to $30 million,” Assistant Commissioner Innes said.

“Organised crime syndicates use their networks across the country, and across the world, to facilitate a range of criminal activities including the activities linked to the illicit drug and firearm trades.

“By working together across national and international borders we gather important intelligence to assist with targeted disruption activities and build our intelligence holdings to support current and future investigations,” Assistant Commissioner Innes said.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale said Taskforce Sentry was a testament to the AFP’s determination to work with partners to stop the importation of drugs into Australia.

“The Australian public can rest assured that the AFP and its partner agencies are committed to keeping the community safe. This taskforce aims to disrupt criminals who seek to profit from bringing illicit substances into Australia and protect Australians from the terrible social damage caused by drug abuse and addiction,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.

ABF Assistant Commissioner Tim Fitzgerald noted the significant outcomes were closely related to excellent cross-agency cooperation.

“We often talk about working together with law enforcement partners, and Taskforce Sentry has really allowed us to supercharge this cooperation on top of our already excellent work in this space, and the results speak for themselves,” Assistant Commissioner Fitzgerald said.

“The ABF’s border detection capabilities play a significant role in generating referrals to the taskforce. Since the taskforce’s inception, there have been over 200 referrals of narcotic detections comprising cocaine, MDMA, GHB and heroin.”

The taskforce has also provided tactical support to major multi-agency drug operations, including AFP-led Operation Ironside.

During the course of Operation Ironside, Taskforce Sentry assisted in dismantling a Brisbane-based drug syndicate that was allegedly hiding drugs inside computer hard drives mailed from the United States. Police removed the illicit drugs before delivering the packages to a Woolloongabba address on May 17, where a criminal safehouse was discovered and following investigations, three alleged syndicate members arrested.

Other Taskforce Sentry arrests include:

• A 31-year-old Pimpana man arrested and charged on August 12 with one count of supplying a dangerous drug. Police will allege he accepted delivery of 1 kilogram of cocaine sent from Italy concealed in vehicle parts. He is due to appear at Southport Magistrates Court on September 9.
• A 32-year-old Richlands man arrested and charged on May 7 with attempted possession of a dangerous drug after the taskforce investigated a package that had arrived in Australia from the UK containing 8 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside modelling clay. It will be alleged that a search warrant executed on the property located the contents of the package hidden under garden trimmings in the backyard. He is due to reappear in the Richlands Magistrates Court on August 31.
• A 20-year-old Robina man charged on April 20 in connection with attempting to import a kilogram of heroin after the taskforce investigated a package that had arrived in Australia from Kenya with the heroin hidden within ribbon spools. He is due to re-appear at the Southport Magistrates Court on September 6. See the earlier media release here.
• A 35-year-old Inala man and 39-year-old Mackay woman were arrested and charged with drug offences on March 23 following a taskforce investigation into a package that arrived in Australia from Vietnam containing 3.3 kilograms of heroin concealed inside boxes of disposable gloves. It will be alleged the package was addressed to a business in Mackay where the woman accepted delivery. It will be further alleged the woman provided the package to the man who was subsequently intercepted in a vehicle with the package on board. The man was charged with three offences including attempted possession of a dangerous drug and possession of suspected drug proceeds. The woman was charged with attempted possession of a dangerous drug. Both are due to reappear in Mackay Magistrates Court on December 15.
• A 30-year-old Eight Mile Plains man charged with drug offence on March 4, following a joint operation with NSW Police Force investigating a syndicate involved in the alleged interstate transportation and distribution of dangerous drugs. 

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