Junk Explained: Why Is Qantas Being Linked To Drug Cartels And Bikies?

A new 'Aussie cartel' could be responsible for one-third of all drug importations into Australia.

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Australia’s national peak intelligence agency believes that an ‘Aussie drug cartel’ is earning an estimated $1.5 billion a year by smuggling drugs into the country with the help of corrupt government officials, Qantas employees, and border control insiders.

According to the classified intelligence operation — codenamed ‘Project Brunello’ — the cartel is made up members from both Australian bikie gangs and ‘Middle Eastern crime syndicates’, and could pose a ‘very high threat to the Australian border’.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive Michael Phelan told Nine newspapers and 60 Minutes that nine men — who are also known as the ‘Australian Mr. Bigs’ — made up the cartel, and that they could be responsible for about one-third of the drug importations into our country. Phelan also described the members as “the baddest of the bad”.

The Alleged ‘Crime Cartel’ And Qantas

One of the most eye-opening discoveries reported is that up to 150 Qantas staff could be linked to criminality.

The staff members under investigation include a Comanchero motorcycle gang affiliate, who has links to an international drug cartel boss and is working in a managerial position for Qantas at Sydney Airport.

Other reports suggest that a Qantas contractor in the Northern Territory is linked to the Hells Angels, and that a Qantas freight contractor in Perth was found by Brunello repeatedly using his ‘insider status’ to make big drug deliveries.

As if links of gang affiliation to Qantas wasn’t enough, members of the drug cartel are also apparently believed to be connected to government insiders.

What Is Qantas Saying About All Of This?

Qantas has said it was ‘disturbed’ by claims that their staff were involved in organised crime following the reports. The airline said authorities had not raised any concerns with them.

“To be clear, none of Australia’s law enforcement agencies have told us the existence of a report that suggests there are potentially 150 Qantas employees who have connections to organised crime,” said Qantas Group Chief Security Officer Luke Bramah.

“If concerns are raised regarding any of our employees, we will actively support their investigation and take appropriate action.”

Newspapers reported that official sources briefed on the findings hadn’t publicly released the findings themselves “due to confidentiality requirements”.

And What Happens Now?

Since the report several Labor politicians have called for an “urgent review” into the security at Australia’s airport, in relation to the alleged drug cartel.

There have also been new findings released from the Australian Federal Police’s Operation Ironside, which used intelligence from an encrypted app to trick Australian mafia, bikies, and global gang members into detailing their plans to law enforcement.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced there have been mass raids and arrests right across Australia, in what he described as the nation’s largest ever crime operation.

(Image: Troy Mortier / Unsplash)