Operation Juliet Wave
The CCC targets niche areas of major crime of highest threat to the community. It contributes to the overall law enforcement effort in Queensland through its mix of unique powers and specialist resources in investigations, proceeds of crime recovery, strategic intelligence and research.
A two-year operation by the CCC, in partnership with the QPS, dismantled a major organised crime network consisting of former members and associates of the Centro Chapter of the Bandidos criminal motorcycle gang (CMG). The network was trafficking crystal methamphetamine or “ice” and other drugs between Sydney and Brisbane.
The CCC established the operation, codenamed Juliet Wave, to address the criminal sophistication and resilience demonstrated by the ex-Centro members and their associates, and because ice is assessed by CCC strategic intelligence as the drug causing greatest harm to the Queensland community.
The operation employed various investigative strategies, focusing on key targets identified through intelligence and financial analysis. Investigators found they were using both legitimate business and criminal intermediaries to avoid risk and mask their criminal activities. The close cooperation with other law enforcement agencies also contributed to the successful outcome.
The operation was closed in three phases. The closure of the covert stage occurred in October 2014 when 19 search warrants were executed at addresses in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Logan and Cairns, involving 100 officers of the CCC and the QPS with assistance from the National Anti-Gang Squad, the Australian Federal Police, and Customs and Border Protection Service.
By the completion of Operation Juliet Wave, a total of 66 people had been charged with 471 offences. This includes 13 persons being charged with the serious offence of drug trafficking, which in Queensland has a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.
Those arrested included a 28-year-old man who was a former office-bearer of the Centro Chapter of the Bandidos. During the investigation he surrendered his colours and formally disassociated himself from the Bandidos CMG. A close associate, a 34-year-old South Brisbane man, was also charged with drug trafficking. He is a part-owner of a Brisbane coffee shop where a BitCoin ATM was seized for forensic examination.
Drugs with an estimated value of $2.9 million were also seized including crystal and liquid ice estimated at over $2 million. The seizure of these drugs prevented them from entering communities and drugs proceeds being reinvested into further trafficking activities.
The CCC has also commenced proceeds of crime action in the Supreme Court against two targets of Operation Juliet Wave, successfully restraining assets and bank accounts to the value of $1 435 997.* The CCC expects to restrain more assets in the future.
* As at 8 May 2015.
Drugs seized during Operation Juliet Wave
Methylamphetamine market in Queensland
In December 2012 the CCC assessed the overall market assessment for methylamphetamine as very high with an increasing market trend. Methylamphetamine poses the greatest threat to Queenslanders because of its prevalence across the state, its harms to users and the strong presence of organised crime in this market.
The BitCoin machine seized from a Brisbane coffee shop in October 2014 was forensically examined by the QPS in order to progress the investigation further.
Intelligence and information world-wide has identified that crypto currency such as BitCoin is attractive to criminals in enabling them to hide their criminal transactions.
Crypto currencies (also referenced as virtual currencies) are a form of digital cash based on cryptography and encryption. Commonly, crypto currencies have no central issuing authority and are unregulated. These characteristics provide a degree of anonymity which can attract criminal use.
Crypto currencies like Bitcoin are being used extensively by criminals such as illicit drug offenders on darknet markets (e.g. the former Silk Road). These markets operate solely on crypto currencies in an attempt to remain untraceable. Criminals may also use crypto currencies for money laundering and to conceal the proceeds of crime.