Australian authorities have dismantled a major criminal organisation accused of orchestrating the movement of nearly $1 billion in cryptocurrency. The syndicate, believed to have roots in Lebanon, is also alleged to have trafficked $652 million worth of drugs, firearms, and tobacco.
The crackdown, led by New South Wales (NSW) police, resulted in the arrest of 28 individuals. The operation, spanning two days, involved 450 officers executing 37 search warrants and making 24 arrests. Among the seized assets are 25 firearms, $1.3 million in cryptocurrency, almost $980,000 in cash, luxury watches valued at over $1.9 million, a Lamborghini, and 60 encrypted criminal communication devices. Additionally, police confiscated two tonnes of illicit drugs and precursor substances with a combined value exceeding $85 million.
During a press event, Detective Superintendent Peter Faux revealed that the syndicate had allegedly moved more than $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency during its criminal activities. Faux emphasised the lengths such organised crime networks go to consolidate power and profit from their illicit endeavours.
Deputy Commissioner David Hudson asserted that the international network had extensive reach, influencing various levels of organised crime in NSW and allegedly controlling the illegal drug trade through methods such as price manipulation. The ongoing investigation has identified Bilal Haouchar as a key figure, with his arrest by Lebanese authorities and the apprehension of his brother, Nedal Haouchar, at Sydney airport marking significant developments in the case.