Today Minister for Justice Michael Keenan joined Western Australia Police Minister Liza Harvey to announce that the Commonwealth Government would be investing an additional $6.2 million to extend the work of the WA National Anti-Gang Squad (NAGS) for a further two years and increase its presence in regional Australia.
That is why the Commonwealth Government invested $77 million to establish NAGS Strike Teams across the country to crack down on drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, firearms offences and acts of high level violence.
Mr Keenan said organised criminal gangs represent an ongoing threat to this country. They are violent predators who profit from the misery of evil trades.
“We know that organised crime in Australia relies heavily on the illegal drug market as its principle source of profit with more than 60 per cent of Australia’s highest risk criminal targets involved in the ice market and driving its expansion,”
“That is why we are fostering unprecedented cooperation between our federal and state law enforcement agencies to tackle this threat.
“We’re not backing off. We’re going hard to shut down their evil trades, using this additional investment, particularly in regional areas, to help disrupt attempts by organised criminal syndicates to peddle misery and exert significant influence over Australia’s black market.”
The National Ice Taskforce Report found ice use in regional and remote Australia is a growing problem which the Commonwealth and WA State Government are committed to tackling.
The results of the NAGS in the last two years speak for themselves. Since July 2014 around 85 offenders have been arrested, 277 people charged, $1.75 million in cash and 24 firearms have been seized and $2.3 million in assets have been restrained, including a clubhouse and six Harley Davidson motor cycles.
Illicit drugs including 53.2kg of methamphetamine, with a street value of approximately $53.2 million, and 62kg of cannabis, with a street value of approximately $1.5 million, have also been seized.
Minister Harvey said anecdotal evidence links the use of illicit drugs to anti-social behaviour and other more violent crimes including assault and aggravated theft.
“That is why this additional funding is vital to ensure the WA Strike Team has the resources they need to continue working with their Federal counterparts to tackle organised criminal syndicates that cause devastation to our communities,” Ms Harvey said.
“Standing together in the fight against drugs is our best weapon. We must send a united message that we will not tolerate gang activity in our cities or regions.
“The NAGS commitment is part of the Liberal National Government’s WA Meth Strategy which tackles meth on three fronts – education to stop people from ever using this dangerous drug; support and treatment services to help people who are impacted by meth; and disrupting supply.”
The NAGS comprises representatives from the AFP, WA Police, and the Australian Tax Office – in close collaboration with Australian Border Force, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, and the Department of Human Services. This funding will extend NAGS operations to 2018-19.