IT'S AN unprecedented gun war that's cost 12 lives, involved 270 shootings and left parts of Sydney gripped by fear.
So when information pointed to Tasmania playing a role, a few eyebrows were raised among members of the New South Wales Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad.
"It wouldn't be something that is usual, that's come across our radar before, so it was quite an interesting side to our gun crime inquiry," the squad's Detective Superintendent Deb Wallace said.
The 30-year NSW police veteran has been disrupting organised crime since the '90s and quickly set up Strike Force Whitfield to pursue the Tasmanian angle.
The strike force began investigating the trafficking of guns into NSW from Tasmania in return for drugs.
"We believe the guns were destined to criminals within NSW so we're going to explore that," Detective Wallace said.
"It wouldn't be unreasonable to believe they were headed to the streets of western Sydney."
As part of the investigation, Tasmania Police set up Operation Webb to work with NSW police.
Just a month in, police are already claiming some success.
Earlier this month, four hand guns and $150,000 in cash were seized at Launceston Airport by detectives from Northern CIB.
As a result, NSW Police searched a home in Sydney's south, finding a clandestine laboratory, a small quantity of methylamphetamine, cutting agent and $2690 in cash.
Strange as the Bass Strait connection might seem, Detective Wallace said an increase in gun seizures in NSW had created an environment for "people to cash in on the market".
At the same time firearms thefts in Tasmania are on the rise.
In 2012-13, 247 guns were stolen, more than double the previous year and more than a third of all firearms stolen between 2005-10.
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