Operation Phobetor which should be a “nightmare” unfolds for criminal gangs


Greek mythology inspired Australian authorities’ latest attempt to become organized crime’s biggest nightmare.

Bikie groups, cartels and triads will be targeted by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Organization, as well as the Federal Police and New South Wales Police, as part of Operation Phobetor, named after the Greek god of nightmares.

“(It’s) hit them where it’s going to hurt them … by taking their possessions,” Home Secretary Karen Andrews told reporters at Australian Federal Police headquarters in Canberra on Monday.

The latest operation aims to build another, dubbed Ironside, which has led to the arrest of more than 300 people and the seizure of tens of millions of dollars.

“We will see two world class law enforcement agencies combine their resources to provide nightmares for the criminal element in this nation,” said NSW Police Secretary David Elliott.

Home Secretary Karen Andrews said Operation Phobetor would target organized crime groups. Credit: PAA

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw has pledged to “relentlessly” hunt down criminal networks, especially those based in hostile countries.

“We are going to tackle logistical weapons, their financial weapons and their operational weapons at the same time and this has not been done before on the scale in which we are going to go,” he said.

“Whether you are Australian or not, and whether you are targeting, peddling misery in our communities, whether it is methamphetamine, heroin or cocaine, we are going to prosecute you. “

Australian Home Secretary Karen Andrews is reflected in the glasses of an AFP tactical police officer during the task force announcement.
Australian Home Secretary Karen Andrews is reflected in the glasses of an AFP tactical police officer during the task force announcement. Credit: LUKAS COCH/PAA

The task force includes around 20 officers from the Federal and NSW branches as well as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

They will target “dangerous criminals living the high life of financial corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering”.

The task force will use heightened powers, including allowing access to the computers of suspected criminals to break encrypted communications and track the movement of ill-gotten money.

It also aims to detect criminal groups that previously went under the authorities’ radar, as well as blackmail attempts targeting the private and public sectors.


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