http://www.mackenzieinstitute.com/2006/ ... tralia.htm

January, 2006
Foreward

When one hears a cri-de coeur from an experienced front-line worker, such as a street cop, one should always pay close attention to it. The problems that Tim Priest, a former police detective from New South Wales Australia, describes are not isolated ones. First, there is the combination of willful political negligence which leads to police inaction that lets gangs develop and prosper in the first place. Canadians are becoming increasingly aware (Finally!) of the growing severity of gang problems in our major cities.

Unlike Australia or many European states, we have yet to see the full start of Middle Eastern crime, with its added dimension of Islamic militancy to compound the normal agenda of street thugs… but there are signs that this will come. Let’s take Tim Priest’s warning to heart.

by John C. Thompson
Issue # 21 -- January 2006
The Rise of Middle Eastern Crime in Australia
-- Tim Priest
Introduction

I believe that the rise of Middle Eastern organised crime in Sydney will have an impact on society unlike anything we have ever seen.

In the early 1980s, as a young detective I was attached to the Drug Squad at the old CIB (Criminal Intelligence Bureau). I remember executing a search warrant at Croydon, where we found nearly a pound of heroin. I know that now sounds very familiar; however, what set this heroin apart was that it was Bekkah Valley heroin, markedly different from any heroin I had seen. Number Four heroin from the golden triangle of South East Asia is nearly always off white, almost pure diamorphine. This heroin was almost brown.

But more remarkable were the occupants of the house. They were very recent arrivals from Lebanon, and from the moment we entered the premises, we wrestled and fought with the male occupants, were abused and spat at by the women and children, and our search took five times longer because of the impediments placed before us by the occupants, including the women hiding heroin in baby nappies and on themselves and refusing to be searched by policewomen because of their religious beliefs.

We had never encountered these problems before.

As was the case in those days, we arrested every adult and teenager who had hampered our search. When it came to court, they were represented by Legal Aid, of course, who claimed that these people were innocent of the minor charges of public disorder and hindering police, because they were recent arrivals from a country where people have an historical hatred towards police, and that they also had poor communications skills and that the police had not executed the warrant in a manner that was acceptable to the Muslim occupants.

The magistrate, well known to police as one who convicted fewer than one in ten offenders brought before him during his term at Burwood local court, threw the matter out, siding with the occupants and condemning the police. I remember thinking; thank heavens we don't run into many Lebanese drug dealers.
Lebanese Family Terrorises Neighbourhood

In 1994 I was stationed at Redfern. A well known Lebanese family who lived not far from the old Redfern Police Academy were terrorising the locals with random assaults, drug dealing, robberies and violent anti-social behaviour. When some young police from Redfern told me about them, curiosity got the better of me and I asked them to show me the street they lived in.

Despite the misgivings of the young police, I eventually saw this family and the presence they had in the immediate area. As we drove away in our marked police car, a half brick bounced on the roof of the vehicle. The driver kept going.

I said, 'What are you doing, they've just hit the car with a house brick!" The young constable said, "Oh, they always do that when we drive past."

The police were either too scared or too lazy to do anything about it. The damage bill on police cars became costly and these street terrorists grew stronger and the police became purely defensive. You see, the Police Royal Commission was about to start and the police retreated inside themselves knowing that the judicial system considered them easy targets.[1] The police did not want to get hurt or attract Internal Affairs complaints.

Call me stupid, call me a dinosaur, but I made sure that day that at least one person in the group that threw the brick was arrested. I began by approaching the group just as a magistrate had lectured me and other police involved in the Croydon search warrant. I simply asked who threw the brick. I was greeted with abuse and threats.

I then reverted to the old ways of policing. I grabbed the nearest male and convinced him that it was he who had thrown the brick. His brave mates did nothing. By the time we arrived at the police station, this young fool had become compliant, apologetic and so afraid that he kept crying. You may not agree with what I did, but I paraded this goose around the police station for all the young police to see what they had become frightened of.

For some months after that, police routinely rounded up the family whenever it was warranted. However, some years later, with a change of Police Commander and the advent of duty officers under Peter Ryan, the family got back on top and within months had murdered a young Australian man who had wandered into their area drunk. They had set up a caravan where they sold drugs twenty four hours a day. They tied up half the police station with Internal Affairs complaints ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, but under Peter Ryan, these complaints were always treated seriously.[2]

In effect, this family had taken control of Redfern. Senior police did their best to limit police action against them, fearing an avalanche of IA complaints that would count against the Commander at Peter Ryan's next Operational Crime Review.

I hope the examples I have just used don't give the impression that I am a racist or a bully. The point I want to make from the start is that policing has never been rocket science. It is about human dynamics, street psychology, experience, a little bit of theatre and a substantial quantity of common sense. Sure, forensics and the advances of DNA, rapid fingerprint identification and electronic eavesdropping have taken policing to a new level of sophistication, but ultimately, when an offender is identified by whatever means, scientific or otherwise, it all comes down to the interaction between the investigator and the offender during the arrest and interview process. Violent and abusive offenders do not respect the law or those who enforce it. But they do respect the old style cop who doesn't take a backward step and can't be intimidated. When they encounter cops like that, they fold quickly as there is rarely much behind the veneer of bravado.

In 1996 with the arrival of Peter Ryan, and the continued public humiliation of the New South Wales Police through the Wood Royal Commission, a chain of events began that have affected the police so deeply and so completely that, as far as ensuring community safety is concerned, I fear it will take at least a generation to regain the lost ground.
The Rise of Middle Eastern Crime Groups in New South Wales

It was about 1995 and 1996 that the emergence of Middle Eastern crime groups was first observed in New South Wales. Before then they had been largely known for individual acts of antisocial behaviour and loose family structures involved in heroin importation and supply as well as motor vehicle theft and conversion. The crimes that did appear to be organised before this period were insurance fraud, -- usually motor vehicle accidents -- and arson.

Because these crimes were largely victimless, they were dealt with by insurance companies and police involvement was limited. But from these insurance scams, a generation of young criminals emerged to become engaged in more sophisticated crimes, such as extortion, armed robbery, organised narcotics importation and supply, gunrunning, organised factory and warehouse break ins, car theft and conversion on a massive scale including the exporting of stolen luxury vehicles to Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries.

As the police began to gather and act on intelligence on these emerging Middle Eastern gangs, the first of a series of events took place. The New South Wales Police were restructured under Peter Ryan. Crime Intelligence, the eyes and ears of all police forces throughout the world, was dismantled overnight and a British style intelligence unit was created. The formation of this unit and its factions has been best described by Dr Richard Basham as a library stocking outdated books.[3] The new Crime Intelligence and Information Section became completely reactive. It received crime intelligence from the field and stored it. Almost no relevant intelligence was ever dispensed to operational police from 1997 until I left in 2002. It was a disgrace.

One of the fundamental problems that arose out of the new intelligence structure was that it no longer had a field capacity or a target development capacity. With the old CIB there were field teams that were assigned to look into emerging trends. Vietnamese, Romanian and Hong Kong Chinese groups were all targeted after intelligence grew on their activities. When the alarm bells went off over growing intelligence concerns about a new or current crime group, covert operations were mounted.
Lebanese Gangs Intimidate Police

When the Middle Eastern crime groups emerged in the mid to late 1990s no alarms were set off. The Crime Intelligence unit was asleep. I know personally that operational police in south west Sydney compiled enormous amounts of good intelligence on the formation of Lebanese groups such as the Telopea Street Boys and others in the Campsie, Lakemba, Fairfield and Punchbowl areas. The inactivity could not have been because the intelligence reports weren't interesting, because I have read many of them and from a policing perspective they were damning. Many of the offenders that you now see in major criminal trials or serving lengthy sentences in prison were identified back then.

But even more frustrating for operational police were the activities of this ethnic crime group; activities that set it apart from almost all others bar the Cabramatta 5T [A Vietnamese gang in NSW-ed]. The Lebanese groups were ruthless, extremely violent, and they intimidated not only innocent witnesses, but even the police that attempted to arrest them.

As these crime groups encountered less resistance in terms of police operations and enforcement, their power grew not only within their own communities, but also all around Sydney except in Cabramatta, where their fear of the South East Asian crime groups limited their forays. But the rest of Sydney became easy pickings.

The second in the series of events began to take shape with Peter Ryan's executive leadership team. Under Ryan's nose they began to carve up the New South Wales Police and form little kingdoms where senior police officers ruled almost untouched by outside influence. Ryan’s team then appointed their own commanders in the police stations. Almost all of them had little or no street experience; but they in turn brought along their friends as duty officers, similarly inexperienced. Some of the experience these police listed on their resumes included stints at Human Resources, the Academy, the Police Band in one case, the various cubbyholes in Police Headquarters, and almost no operational policing experience -- yet they were tasked to lead. Never has the expression "the blind leading the blind" been more appropriate.

The impact that this leadership team had on day-to-day operational policing was disastrous. In many of the key areas that were experiencing rapid rises in Middle Eastern crime, these new leaders became more concerned with relations between the police and ethnic minorities than with emerging violent crime. The power and influence of the local religious and minority leaders cannot be overstated. Police began to use selective law enforcement. They selected targets that were unlikely to use their ethnic background and cultural beliefs to hinder police investigations or arrests. It was mostly Anglo Saxons and Asians who were targets, because they were underrepresented by religious leaders and the media. They were soft targets.

An example of the confrontations police nearly always experienced in Muslim-dominated areas when confronting even the most minor of crimes is an incident that occurred in 2001 in Auburn. Two uniformed officers stopped a motor vehicle containing three well known male offenders of Middle Eastern origin, on credible information via the police radio indicating that the occupants of the vehicle had been involved in a series of break-and-enters. What occurred during the next few hours can only be described as frightening.

When searching the vehicle and finding stolen property from the break-and-enter, the police were physically threatened by the three occupants of the car, including references to tracking down where the officers lived, killing them and "****ing your girlfriends". The two officers were intimidated to the point of retreating to their police car and calling for urgent assistance.

When police backup arrived, the three occupants called their associates via their mobile phones -- which incidentally is the Middle Eastern radio network used to communicate amongst gangs. Within minutes as many as twenty associates arrived as well as another forty or so from the street where they had been stopped. As further police cars arrived, the Middle Eastern males became even more aggressive, throwing punches at police, pushing police over onto the ground, threatening them with violence and damaging police vehicles.

When the duty officer arrived, he immediately ordered all police back into their vehicles and they retreated from the scene. The stolen property was not recovered. No offender was arrested for assaulting police or damaging police vehicles.

But the humiliation did not end there. The group of Middle Eastern males then drove to the police station, where they intimidated the station staff, damaged property and virtually held a suburban police station hostage. The police were powerless. The duty officer ordered police not to confront the offenders but to call for back up from nearby stations. Eventually the offenders left of their own volition. No action was taken against them.

In the minds of the local population, the police were cowards and the message was “Lebs rule the streets.