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Raptor Squad sets up permanent base in Hunter region

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Following successful operations in Maitland and Muswellbrook, the NSW Police Force State Crime Command’s Raptor Squad will now have a permanent base in the Hunter to target and dismantle organised criminal groups.

Officers are scheduled to start duties from as early as Monday 23 January.

The newly-launched Raptor North will comprise of 29 experienced staff, with assistance from investigators, Operations Support Group (OSG) operatives and Traffic and Highway Patrol personnel.

Although centred in this region, it’ll also have the capability to deploy throughout all of Northern NSW, targeting criminal networks on the Central Coast, the Mid-North Coast and Coffs Harbour, and towards the NSW-QLD border.

Photo: NSW Police Force

The Raptor Squad will work closely with the Sydney-based unit, along with additional resources, including the National Anti-Gang Squad (NAGS), NSW Crime Commission, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and other government partner agencies, too.

Northern Region Commander Acting Assistant Commissioner Scott Tanner said while local police were regularly assisted, the formation of a long-lasting team was a major win for Northern NSW.

“This serves as a warning to criminal networks intent on causing harm to our community,” he explained.

“Most recently, Raptor Squad officers have worked closely with our local police to proactively target conflicting OMCGs involved in public-place shootings, arson attacks, and violent, public-place assaults.

“Even just last week, the Coffs Harbour and Northern Rivers Region Enforcement Squad’s (RES) and local police district officers teamed up with the Raptor Squad to investigate the cultivation and supply of illicit drugs in Northern NSW.

“Ten firearms were seized as officers conducted three search warrants, locating alleged stolen property including a motorbike, a caravan and a tractor.

“Four people were charged and remain before the courts; it’s joint operations such as these which will only ramp up with the addition of Raptor North.

“Our message is clear.

“If you choose to engage in criminal activity in our regions, then expect the attention from our police.

“Just because you’re out of Sydney doesn’t mean you’re out of our sights.”

Photo: NSW Police Force

Strike Force Raptor was established in 2009 before becoming the stand-alone Raptor Squad in 2021.

“NSW Police Force is continuing to strengthen its capabilities and is putting resources on the ground in regional NSW to proactively target those committing criminal offences,” Raptor Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Andrew Koutsoufis said.

“From the onset, the goal has been to disrupt and disable the activities of criminal networks, including OMCG, and remove the appeal of being in a gang.

“And, that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“The tactics and strategies we have employed within the Sydney basin have proven highly-effective in reducing the attraction of joining an outlaw motorcycle gang, with more than 7000 arrests and 16,000 charges since 2009, tens of millions in cash and drugs seized and destroyed.

“We will continue to pivot our operations to put the safety of the people of NSW first, organised criminal activity is not welcome in our state.”

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the Hunter-based Raptor North would continue to expand the proactive and disruptive tactics employed by the Sydney-based Raptor Squad.

“The Raptor name has become synonymous with dismantling organised crime in this state,” the Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Police added.

Photo: NSW Police Force

“Crime knows no boundaries and, as our regional communities to grow, it is critical resources are directed to where they need to go to disrupt these networks.

“Since July, we’ve boosted total Raptor Squad numbers by 30, with police now able to mobilise a Raptor North team of 29 and Raptor South squad of 25.

“These squads are sending a clear message to organised crime networks thinking they can slip under the radar or spread their tentacles in the region.

“Raptor is watching and the only part of the regions they’ll see is the inside of one of our prisons.”

Information provided to investigators will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

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