The two suspects were planning to leave the UAE but their plan was foiled by Dubai Police Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Police have arrested two Australian nationals, cconsidered kingpins of a major drug importation operation that smuggled nearly three tonnes of drugs into Australia with a street value of $150 million, officials said on Thursday.

Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-In-Chief of Dubai Police, said the two wanted men, Benjamin Neil and Mathew John, who are part of Millstream drug gang, were arrested within seven days after receiving an Interpol red warrant.

Several raids were conducted in Australia that led to the arrest of three men, two in Sydney and one in Muswellbrook in June 2020.

“The success of the operation came after directives and support of Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, to work with other countries in fighting organised crimes. Dubai Police has the ability to solve mysterious cases and arrest the most dangerous criminals,” Lt. Gen Al Merri said in a statement.

Major-General Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Criminal Investigation Affairs, said the information exchanged with the Australian authorities was analysed at Dubai Police’s data centre with the two suspects identified as staying in Dubai.

“A team of officers arrested the two based on the red warrant for smuggling drugs and trafficking of controlled substances. They were referred to the concerned authority for extradition,” Maj Gen Al Mansouri said.

The two suspects were planning to leave the UAE but their plan was foiled by Dubai Police.

The developments follow an extensive seven-year investigation which began in December 2013, when detectives from the Australian authority established Strike Force Millstream to investigate the large-scale supply of prohibited drugs, mainly MDMA and methylamphetamine.

According to Australian media, during the course of the investigation, detectives uncovered a significant transnational drug importation and money laundering operation as well as other organised criminal activity.

Moreover, Reece Kershaw, Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), lauded the cooperation of the Dubai Police in tracking and arresting the two suspects.

“The Australian Federal Police, together with the New South Wales Police Force, would like to thank Dubai Police for their tireless work in investigating and apprehending these wanted criminals,” said Kershaw.

He added that the latest arrest of the Australian suspects in Dubai is a result of the long-established partnership between the two police agencies.

“The AFP and Dubai Police have been close and trusted law enforcement partners for many years. We greatly values the leadership and commitment that Dubai Police demonstrates in the global fight against organised crime.”

Commissioner Kershaw stressed that the AFP and Dubai Police maintain active channels of communication to discuss new ways of policing and to jointly combat transnational organised crime groups impacting Australia and the UAE.

“The AFP and the Dubai Police are staying shoulder-to-shoulder, and are unified in their approach to combating these transnational crime syndicates operating in Australia and the UAE. We will continue to work closely together to dismantle these syndicates and bring offenders to justice,” he added.

52 wanted people arrested

Brigadier Jamal Al Jallaf, Director of Criminal Investigation Department at Dubai Police, said that police active coordination with international law enforcement agencies, helped to arrest 52 international wanted people this year involved in serious crimes such as terrorism, organised crime, money laundering, murder and drugs. They were wanted in several countries like Holland, Belgium, UK, Sweden, Australia, Pakistan, Indian, China and other countries.