Almost $9 million in mostly $50 and $100 notes has been seized in a police operation targeting drug trafficking over the West Australian border, which officers say has significantly disrupted criminal syndicates operated by methylamphetamine “peddlers of death”.
Police believe the massive cash haul was destined for New South Wales to be laundered and used to further distribute drugs.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Allan Adams described the money as the “lubricant that fuels the drug making machine”.
“The money represents significant harm to Western Australia. This money has been derived from the profits of selling methylamphetamine in Western Australia,” he said.
Seven men have been arrested and charged so far, with more arrests expected.
Potentially ‘highest single seizure in Australian history’
Officers from the Serious and Organised Crime Division, with the help of community tip-offs, identified and stopped several suspicious vehicles crossing the border on October 20.
Inside six cardboard boxes they found a total of $5,986,970 in cash — thought to be linked to a seizure of four kilograms of methylamphetamine in August.
Last week they stopped two trucks.
The first one had recently crossed into WA and was believed to be heading back to the border when police intercepted it in Meckering.
Officers found $2,942,130 cash inside.
The second truck was stopped by detectives from the Gang Crime Squad in Coolgardie.
Police are still counting how much money was in there, but Acting Assistant Commissioner Adams believed it would amount to about the same amount in total as the two other seizures, or around $9 million.
“It is a significant amount of cash that is going to harm criminal enterprises, not only in Western Australia but across Australia,” he said.
He said the current highest amount found in a single seizure was about $8.5 million in NSW two years ago.
‘If you are a criminal … we are coming’
Police Minister Michelle Roberts praised police for the operation, saying the $9 million represented “death and misery for families”.
“This is an amazing job that police have done here,” Ms Roberts said.
“They have disrupted a very significant organised crime group involved in this.
“The people behind this are the people destroying lives in the community.”
Police would not reveal exactly how the money was discovered, except to say “community resources” and information from the border were critical in identifying the targets.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Adams said the bust could not have been possible without help from the community, and specifically made the point that family members of criminals did not always agree with what they did.
“If you are a criminal and you have a family, we are coming,” he warned.
“You don’t do business in Western Australia. You don’t do evil business in Western Australia.”
The confiscated money will be redistributed through the Attorney General’s department, with some going to the police and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and some possibly going to programs to reduce harm in the community and support vulnerable children.
Five men from Perth, one from Queensland and one from NSW have been charged with charged with laundering property or money from the proceeds of major crime.
They were all refused bail.