20 arrested in cross-border sting

Heroin seized during Operation Lightning.
Heroin seized during Operation Lightning. CMC

A QUEENSLAND regional council employee has allegedly been caught up in a major crime ring with links to Balkan crime groups.

Twenty people - all believed to be members or associates of Balkan groups - have been snared in a cross-border investigation in Queensland and NSW on 151 charges.

The Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission-led investigation has prevented $3.6 million worth of heroin and "speed" hitting the streets.

CMC crime assistant commissioner Kathleen Florian said the 12-month investigation, codenamed Operation Lightning, revealed the nucleus was in NSW with distribution points into Queensland and Victoria.

"It is estimated this high-threat network has transported about 30kg of heroin, with an estimated street value of $30 million, into Queensland over the past 10 years, which has been sold on the streets of the Gold Coast and Brisbane," she said.

The council employee's alleged involvement sparked a parallel and ongoing CMC misconduct investigation, revealing allegations the employee was dishonestly conducting checks for a criminal associate and passing on restricted information.

The staff member has been charged with drug and property-related offences as well as misconduct in public office.

The alleged crime target that the person was associated with has been charged with procuring misconduct in public office.


Precursor chemicals and laboratory equipment seized during Operation Lightning
Precursor chemicals and laboratory equipment seized during Operation Lightning CMC

Officers seized 1.82kg of heroin, 1.8kg of "speed" and significant quantities of precursor chemicals and laboratory equipment to produce drugs.


Queensland Police acting assistant commissioner Gayle Hogan said the operation left a significant dent in the organised crime landscape.

"This casts a wide safety net in terms of what we've stopped being sold on the streets and the flow-on effect to the community," she said.

"It's important to keep in mind that use of all illicit drugs, notably heroin, brings particular misery to the individuals and families who are affected by it.

"Heroin distribution also spawns the commission of secondary crimes undertaken to fund addiction, contributes to the spread of diseases which arise out of the use of needles and places further pressure on Queensland's health services."

Topics:  arrests drugs police

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