Daily News Roundup

June 8, 2021

 

Tuesday MAY 9

In what’s been dubbed the “sting of the century” hundreds of people have been arrested as part of a global operation to bring down terrorist groups, mafia organisations and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

“Today, the Australian Government, as part of a global operation, has struck a heavy blow against organised crime — not just in this country, but one that will echo around organised crime around the world,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“This is a watershed moment in Australian law enforcement history … Everything we’ve been doing has been to keep Australians safe.”

Operation Ironside was formed three years ago as a collaboration between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to bring down underworld figures.

Hundreds of alleged offenders were tricked into communicating via AN0M, an encrypted app designed by police.

More than 220 members of Australia’s underworld were arrested as part of the nation’s largest ever crime sting after they were allegedly caught using the app to plan executions, drug imports and launder money.

Hundreds more were nabbed by police in Europe and the US as authorities conducted sweeping raids across the globe.

The AFP said it had busted 21 murder plots, stopped more than 3000kg of drugs from hitting the streets and seized $35 million in cash.

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the organisation had inflicted “maximum damage to serious organised crime”.

“With devastating consequences to those who seek to do harm to Australians and Australia’s interests, and today, Australia is a safer country because of this unprecedented AFP-led operation,” Mr Kershaw added.

More than 4000 law enforcement officers were involved in executing 525 search warrants across Australia.

“Ironside has arrested and charged who we allege are some of the most dangerous criminals to Australia,” Mr Kershaw said.

“We allege they are members of outlaw motorcycle gangs, Australian Mafia, Asian crime syndicates and serious and organised crime groups.

“We allege they’ve been trafficking illicit drugs into Australia at an industrial scale.

“Sadly, criminal gangs are targeting Australia because it is one of the most profitable countries in the world to sell drugs, and for three years, this operation has been covert.

“Australian law enforcement has been arresting and charging alleged offenders and we have prevented tonnes of drugs from coming onshore.”

Mr Kershaw said the sting had resulted in the arrest of dozens of alleged “kingmakers”.

“We have prevented mass shootings in suburbs and frustrated serious and organised crime by seizing their ill-gotten wealth.

“As of today, we have charged 224 alleged offenders, including 525 charges laid.

“Shut down six clandestine laboratories and acted on 21 threats to kill, including saving a family of five … seized 104 firearms and weapons and almost $45 million in cash.

“These figures are likely to increase over the coming days.

“Collectively, these alleged offenders are facing jail terms that could run into hundreds of years and some of the charges they are facing carry life imprisonment.”

Mr Kershaw said while the FBI had the lead on the investigation, the AFP provided the “technical capability to be able to decrypt the messages”.

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Ambulance Victoria has released a statement regarding Premier Daniel Andrews’ fall that has seen him out of work for months.

Mr Andrews has been off work since he fell on wooden steps at a rental property on the Mornington Peninsula in March. He suffered five fractured ribs and an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra.

James Merlino has taken on the role of Acting Premier in his absence, spearheading the state’s response to the latest Covid-19 outbreak.

The statement from Ambulance Victoria says its responders got a triple-zero call on 6.36am on March 9 for a patient who had fallen on steps at a house in Sorrento.

“Based on information provided during the call, the case did not require immediate lights and sirens (life-threatening emergency response) and the call underwent secondary triage,” it reads.

The ambulance arrived at the home at 7am that day.

“The patient was assessed by treating paramedics as having suspected fractured ribs, and pain relief was provided,” the statement reads.

“The patient requested to attend a local hospital in order for the attending crew to remain within the area once cleared from the case.”

The statement from Ambulance Victoria comes after the state’s Shadow Treasurer Louise Staley hinted at a “cover up” and issued a media release where she outlined 12 questions she claimed Mr Andrews “must answer before he comes back to work”.

Some of the questions included:

  • What time was the ambulance called?
  • Who called the ambulance?
  • Did the police attend?
  • Has Daniel Andrews been interviewed either formally or informally by the police in relation to anything that occurred over that long weekend?

In a statement, Ms Staley said: “Daniel Andrews has been on sick leave for 91 days. He has continued to be paid as Premier despite not doing the job.”

She hinted that a “cover up” was involved despite there being no evidence to suggest anything of that nature.

“If there is no cover up then there is no reason not to provide answers to these simple questions,” she said.

The line of questioning was met with backlash from many, with Mornington-based physician Dr Peter Morris accusing Ms Staley of “gutter politics”.

“Diving into & criticising people’s medical issues because your political party is impotent is about as low as it gets,” he wrote.

Former deputy leader of the Victorian Greens, Nina Springle, also hit out at the shadow treasurer, writing: “You’ve got to be kidding me. Liberal Victoria have nothing else to offer than this rubbish? The man broke his back, he didn’t stub a toe. If you break your back, Louise Staley, should we dock your pay while you recover?”

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Victoria’s concerning outbreak of the Delta strain of Covid-19 has been linked to a returned traveller, though questions still remain about how it leaked into the community.

The outbreak, known as the West Melbourne cluster, now has at least 14 confirmed cases linked to it, all of which are the highly-infectious Delta strain.

Acting Premier James Merlino confirmed they have now found a genomic match between this cluster and a returned traveller who entered hotel quarantine on May 8 after arriving from Sri Lanka.

“While we have a genomic link, we do not currently have an epidemiological link, and further investigations are under way to see if we are able to establish any contact between the returned traveller and these families,” he said.

“There’s currently no definitive understanding of where a transmission events may have occurred but we are investigating all possibilities from the plane to travel to the hotel.”

Victoria recorded two new locally acquired cases overnight, bringing the total number of infections in the state’s outbreak to 85.

There was also one case confirmed in an overseas traveller currently in hotel quarantine.

It comes after 11 new infections were confirmed yesterday, with two of those reported late on Sunday.

The returned traveller tested positive to the virus the same day he arrived in Melbourne and was transferred from the Novotel Ibis quarantine hotel to the Holiday Inn health hotel on May 14 before being released from quarantine on May 23.

Investigations have so far revealed there were 24 people on the same plane as the case, with all crew and passengers testing negative.

Of the 268 staff who worked at the Ibis hotel on May 8 an 9 and the 360 staff at the health hotel, there were no positive tests identified. All 12 residents housed in the same Novotel Ibis have tested negative.