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Lake Macquarie arrests over ‘dark web’ drug supply network

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Two men and a woman have been charged as part of investigations into a criminal syndicate allegedly involved in the online supply of prohibited drugs through the dark web.

In May 2021, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Cybercrime Squad established Strike Force Alaine to investigate the online supply of prohibited drugs in the Lake Macquarie area.

Following extensive inquiries, detectives executed search warrants at two properties at Swansea, and a storage facility at Caves Beach, from 4pm on Tuesday 12 April.

Investigators were assisted by officers attached to Lake Macquarie Police District and Northern Region Operation Support Group (OSG) throughout the operation.

A man and woman – aged 47 and 42 – were arrested at a home on Lakeside Drive at Swansea and taken to Belmont Police Station.

A short time later, a 30-year-old male was arrested at a home on George Street and taken to Toronto Police Station.

During subsequent searches, police located and seized more than 100 litres of THC-based chemicals, 15kg of lollipops believed to be laced with a prohibited drug, electronic devices, and other items relevant to investigations.

All items seized will undergo further forensic examination.

The older man and the woman were each charged with three counts of knowing supply psychoactive substance for human consumption, eight counts of supply prohibited drug more than indictable amount, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, knowingly or recklessly direct criminal group assist crime, and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.

They were both refused bail to appear at Belmont Local Court on Wednesday 13 April.

The younger man was charged with three counts of knowingly supply psychoactive substance for human consumption, eight counts of supply prohibited drug more than indictable amount, and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.

He was granted conditional bail to appear at Belmont Local Court next Wednesday 20 April.

Police will allege in court that all three were involved in the supply and distribution of prohibited drugs on the dark web, including E-cigarettes which contained synthetic cannabinoids or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Cybercrime Squad Commander Detective Acting Superintendent Gordon Arbinja said police were well-equipped to deal with anyone engaging in illicit activity on the dark web.

“These arrests should serve as a warning to those using the internet to conceal criminal activity: your anonymity is not guaranteed, and you aren’t outside the reach of law enforcement,” he stated.

“During the course of this investigation, we identified more than $1.6 million in cryptocurrency, which was derived from the sale of these drugs on the dark web, travel directly into the bank accounts of those arrested yesterday.

“Cybercrime Squad investigators will continue to work closely with local police across the state to investigate any incidents of online drug supply and disrupt those activities.”

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