Police detain 20 after seizure of cash, drugs and firearms in AFP joint operation in Launceston

Twenty people have been charged and more than $140,000 in cash seized after a major five-week crackdown on gangs in northern Tasmania, authorities said.

The joint operation of the Police of Tasmania and the National Anti-Gangs of the Australian Federal Police targeted criminal networks in Launceston.

During Operation Coat, $143,000 in cash was seized, as well as a number of firearms and illegal drugs.

The charges include aggravated armed robbery, aggravated burglary, drug trafficking and trafficking of the proceeds of crime.

Tasmania’s Deputy Police Commissioner Jonathon Higgins said police would continue to target criminal organizations in the state.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners at the AFP to achieve this.”

Operation Coat was established in August to investigate criminal and drug offenses committed by organized criminal gangs in Launceston.

“The criminal networks that we really looked at this time, as they had connections to the outlaw motorcycle groups, were groups that were more like street gangs,” Mr Higgins said.

“So they do armed robberies, break into houses, deal in drugs, deal in the proceeds of crime, some of them have complicity statements.

A total of 15 searches were conducted during the operation, during which four firearms were seized, 40 grams of drug ice and 91 ecstasy tablets.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Higgins said it was building on the firearms task force’s work to clear illegal weapons from the streets of Launceston.

“Building on that, we also found that there were other people that we could disrupt and in doing that we are dismantling some of these groups and some of their networks, and making it very uncomfortable for the environment they operate in,” he said.

“Our joint five-week police operation sends a clear message to criminals that despite our continued commitment to addressing COVID in our community, police and law enforcement agencies are equally committed to dealing with and holding criminals to account.”

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