Arrests of two men in Dubai has exposed an international plot to ship almost three tonnes of drugs into Australia with a street value of Aus$150 million.
Police swooped in a joint operation with Australian law enforcement to arrest Benjamin Neil Pitt and Matthew John, two men labelled as kingpins in a major drug smuggling ring.
Officers in Dubai tracked the known criminals before passing surveillance information on to Australian Federal Police.
The men are believed to have fled Australia in 2015. Arrests were made once an Interpol Red Notice had been issued, after intelligence revealed they were planning to leave the UAE.
Maj Gen Khalil Al Mansouri, assistant commander-in-chief of Dubai Police’s Criminal Investigation Affairs, praised the joint efforts to splinter the complex criminal network.
“After exchanging information with the Australian authorities on some gangs, especially on those involved in serious crimes such as drug trafficking, Dubai Police formed a task force to track down the Australian duo,” he said.
“Seven days after receiving the Interpol’s Red Notice, we located the defendants’ whereabouts.
“A task force of officers and members of the Most Wanted Department arrested the men on charges of smuggling large quantities of drugs, the use of the proceeds of crime, and illegal trafficking of prescription drugs.
“They were transferred to the competent authorities for further legal action.”
Organised crime specialists in Australia uncovered the major syndicate linked to a Lone Wolf Motorcycle Club.
Alleged criminality had been tracked by officers in Australia for seven years, culminating in the recent Dubai arrests.
So far, almost two dozen men have been either charged or jailed for their role in organised criminal groups related to the organisation.
Charges were tied to at least four importations of drugs in shipping containers from Germany and the Netherlands in 2013-14 with an estimated value of Aus$1.5 billion.
“The Australian Federal Police and Dubai Police have been close and trusted law enforcement partners for many years,” said Reece Kershaw, commissioner of the AFP.
“We greatly value the leadership and commitment that Dubai Police demonstrates in the global fight against organised crime by staying shoulder-to-shoulder.
“Both forces are unified in an approach to combat these transnational crime syndicates operating in Australia and the UAE.
“We will continue to work closely together to dismantle these syndicates and bring offenders to justice.”
Arrests were made following synchronised raids executed on the pair at their place of residence in Dubai.
It is not the first time organised crime officers in Dubai have worked alongside Australian authorities in an international anti-narcotics operation.
Dubai Police maintained active co-ordination with international law enforcement agencies, aiding the arrest of 52 international fugitives involved in serious crimes such as terrorism, organised crime, money laundering, murder and drugs.
The latest arrests of Pitt and John follow the success of operation Veyda, when Dubai Police joined the AFP and other international law enforcement agencies in dismantling two international organised crime syndicates.
Long-term investigations led to arrests of 17 suspects in Sydney, Dubai and Europe, and the seizing of more than two tonnes of illegal drugs with an estimated street value of Dh2.3 billion.
In 2017, five men were arrested in Dubai and extradited for their role in an international drugs ring planning to ship 1.9 tonnes worth of MDMA, cocaine and crystal methamphetamine destined for Australian streets.
Source: National UAE by Nick Webster