POLICE have frozen more than $2.75 million in assets and seized $250,000 worth of drugs, 16 firearms and a freshwater crocodile as part of a large-scale operation to bust an alleged professional drug trafficking syndicate.
Southern Drug Investigation Detective Inspector Glenn Lathey alleged the syndicate had imported crystal meth from Victoria in cars on the Spirit of Tasmania, among other methods, despite Tasmania Police last month denying the ship had been used as a drug ferry by organised crime.
The Australian Crime Commission yesterday put restraint orders on 10 houses and 13 cars believed to be owned by people involved in the alleged drug syndicate.
The orders will result in more than $2.75 million worth of property being forfeited to the government unless the owners can prove they have a legal claim.
Police are only alleging the syndicate has trafficked $300,000 worth of drugs in the past eight months, but Detective Inspector Lathey said proceeds of crime laws would not be restricted to that window.
Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said he would not comment on this case but that asset confiscation laws could be used to prevent a person from selling their assets to cover expenses like legal fees or providing for their family.
Detective Inspector Lathey said Tasmania Police would use ``whatever powers are available'' in the joint investigation with Australian Federal Police.
``We will certainly be alleging that this syndicate is a professional drug-trafficking syndicate, and they were making a significant amount of money from their drug trafficking activity,'' he said.
Police yesterday searched six houses in Glenorchy, Moonah and Brighton, on top of the 12 properties in Hobart and Devonport searched on Wednesday as part of Operation Vouch.
Seven people have been charged with drug offences so far and some are remanded in custody.
The one-metre crocodile seized from a Brighton house was taken by Parks and Wildlife officers to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary.
``Very surprising find, that was,'' Detective Inspector Lathey said.
The investigation is ongoing and police expect to make more arrests.