Operation Ironside Celebrates Third Anniversary with 63 Offenders Sentenced,

Australia, Police

Article: Operation Ironside, the largest organised crime investigation in the Southern Hemisphere, recently marked its third anniversary with a significant milestone. A total of 63 offenders have been sentenced to a combined 307 years’ imprisonment in Australia as a result of the AFP-led operation.

Launched in June 2021, Operation Ironside involved over 4000 Australian law enforcement officers executing search warrants across the country. The AFP received vital support from state and territory law enforcement agencies, enabling the successful execution of search warrants and arrests nationwide.

Since its inception, Operation Ironside has led to the charging of 392 alleged offenders with 2355 offences, including drug trafficking, money laundering, and dealing in the proceeds of crime. While many alleged offenders are still awaiting trial, 63 individuals, including members of outlaw motorcycle gangs and other serious organised crime groups, have either pleaded guilty or been convicted.

The sentences handed down to these offenders ranged from several months to as long as eight years, with an average sentence of five years’ imprisonment. The highest number of offenders sentenced was in New South Wales, where 22 individuals are serving a collective 121 years’ imprisonment. South Australia followed closely behind, with 19 offenders sentenced to a collective 100 years’ imprisonment. Victoria saw 14 individuals sentenced to a total of 52 years’ imprisonment.

Operation Ironside was a covert investigation into organised crime syndicates that utilized an encrypted communications device called AN0M to traffic drugs and weapons into Australia. Working in collaboration with the FBI, law enforcement agencies read real-time AN0M messages until the platform was shut down in June 2021.

The impact of Operation Ironside is evident in the significant amount of illicit drugs and cash seized during the operation. More than 6.6 tonnes of illicit drugs, valued at approximately $55.6 million, were confiscated, along with 149 weapons and firearms. These seizures accounted for around 16% of the total amount of illicit drugs seized in Australia during the 2020-2021 period.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Crime Kirsty Schofield praised the success of Operation Ironside, stating that it was the largest organised crime operation in the AFP’s history. She emphasized the commitment of law enforcement agencies in targeting serious offenders and preventing them from benefiting financially from their crimes.

Operation Ironside has not only disrupted organised crime in Australia but also made communities safer by ensuring that serious criminals are held accountable. The collaboration between the AFP, the FBI, and other domestic and international law enforcement agencies has sent a clear message to criminals that their illicit activities will not go unpunished.