VIPER dismantles organised crime cabbabis syndicate across Melbourne

Officers from the VIPER Taskforce have arrested five men and seized drugs and cash as part of an investigation into an organised crime syndicate allegedly involved in the trafficking of cannabis.

With the assistance of Mill Park Divisional Response Unit, nine warrants were executed on Wednesday, 5 April at residential addresses in Kew, Glen Waverley, Mill Park, Bellfield (3), Heidelberg, Bullengarook and a business address in Doreen.

A further two searches were conducted on Thursday, 6 April at residential properties in Coimadai and Tarneit.

A 30-year-old Kew man, a 37-year-old Coimadi man and a 41-year-old Melton West man have all been charged with commercial cultivation of cannabis and remanded in custody.

A 53-year-old Lalor man was charged with possess drug of dependence and possess proceeds of crime and released on bail.

A 59-year-old Glen Waverley man was also arrested and is likely to be charged on summons with commercial cultivation of cannabis.

Police also seized more than $210,000 cash, an imitation hand grenade and a small quantity of cannabis from a Lalor address, as well as a large quantity of dismantled hydro equipment and what appears to be approximately 300g of cannabis from the Glen Waverley address.

Approximately 30-40 cannabis plants (over 60kg) were seized from one address in Bellfield, with a quantity of plants being seized from another Bellfield property.

Harvested cannabis plants were seized from an address in Tarneit.

The investigation commenced in October 2022 when police located a crop house with more than 30kg of cannabis in Fawkner.

In February this year, a warrant was executed at an additional address in Sunshine North where approximately 41kg of cannabis was seized in addition to commercial packaging equipment.

In total, approximately 135kg of cannabis with a street value of around $700,000 has been seized during this operation.

The VIPER Taskforce is a tactical and investigative unit based within Crime Command focused on preventing, detecting, deterring, disrupting and dismantling the criminal activities of groups such as outlaw motorcycle gangs, organised crime networks and street gangs.

The taskforce, which commenced in July 2022, supports the work of specialist investigation units and regional police by providing further investigation tactics and enforcement actions.

VIPER is an acronym for visibility, intelligence, prevention, enforcement and reassurance.

Anyone with information about organised criminal or illicit drug activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or make a confidential report at Link

Quotes attributable to Detective Acting Inspector Leigh Howse, VIPER Taskforce:

“This is a significant seizure and very pleasing to be able to prevent so much of this illicit drug from reaching the Victorian community.

“We will continue to confront organised crime head on. As a result of this operation, a significant quality of drugs is now on a one-way ticket to being destroyed.

“These results should serve as a sobering reminder to any dealer who may think they are invincible. Sooner or later, police will be knocking on your door and you will be facing several years in a prison cell.

“We will continue to cripple organised crime entities determined to line their pockets through illicit means and ultimately, to the severe detriment of the rest of the community.

“Community tip-offs play a crucial role in any investigation – if you observe or hear any suspicious behaviour such as covering or blacking out windows, strong plant smells and unusual or pedestrian movement, please call police.”

/Public Release. View in full here.