At least one organised criminal network has been dismantled, and senior gang members arrested and charged after a five-week multi-agency police operation involving both Tasmanian officers and Australian Federal Police.
Tasmania Police is expected to reveal more of Operation Coat details on Wednesday, but it was understood at least 20 people had been charged and were going through the court process as a result of the targeted initiative, which focused on newly-established criminal networks in the state's North.
About 12 individual officers were dedicated to the operation full-time, including police from Launceston CIB, AFP, and Tasmania's Crime and Intelligence Command.
The operation followed the establishment of the Northern firearms taskforce, which was formed in April after a series of gun-related crimes in the region.
Intelligence from that taskforce was used to form the new operation, which similarly involved a number of searches of properties across Launceston, with police seizing more than $140,000 in cash as well as illegal firearms and drugs.
- 15 searches conducted
- 20 people charged
- 4 firearms seized
- 40 grams of ICE seized
- 91 Ecstasy tablets seized
- $143,000 cash seized
Launceston CIB Detective Inspector Craig Fox said the recent operation focused on breaking up criminal gangs with a "semi-organised structure".
Among those arrested were "high-level members" of Northern networks, and charges included serious crimes such as armed robbery, burglary, and drug-related offences.
"Tasmania police will continue to target criminal organisations that operate in Tasmania or organisations that are attempting to operate in Tasmania ... this is aimed at keeping the community safe, and minimising the harm of drugs, and criminal activity in Tasmania," Detective Inspector Fox said.
While 20 arrests within a five-week period was considered a success, Detective Inspector Fox said the job of disrupting criminal networks was never complete.
"If they are expecting Tasmania Police to come down and search their house or their business, then that might be enough to stop them from doing criminal activity."
Prior to the operation, the firearms taskforce had charged 60 people with a total of 266 offences, and seized 60 guns through 62 coordinated searches over a four-month period.
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Acting Deputy Commissioner Jonathan Higgins said Tasmania Police would continue to work closely with AFP.
"The community needs to be aware that criminal gangs are not harmless clubs. They are well organised criminals who readily resort to violence and intimidation to protect their way of life, causing fear across Tasmania," he said.
"Our joint five-week police operation sends a clear message to criminals that despite our ongoing commitment to tackling COVID in our community, police and law enforcement agencies remain equally committed to targeting and holding criminals to account."
AFP Tasmania 's National Anti-Gangs Squad Sergeant Nick Gibson said these groups were "highly involved in the importation of illicit drugs and the sale of illegal weapons".
"Criminal gangs are profiting from the misery caused by the drugs they import and the violence they support," Sergeant Gibson said.
Anyone with information about organised crime should contact Police on 131444 or report anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestopperstas.com.au
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