A girlfriend of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim has been arrested during raids that were part of an international police sting that allegedly stopped nearly two tonnes of ecstasy being brought into Australia.
Model Sarah Budge, who owns Crane Bar in Sydney’s east, was arrested today and charged with one count of possessing a loaded pistol.
The joint Australian-Dutch operation netted members of Sydney’s most high-profile underworld families, including two brothers and the son of John Ibrahim and underworld figures Mustapha Dib and Rock Ahmad.
Seventeen people were arrested in total, including nine men and one woman in Sydney, five people in Dubai and two people in The Hague.
The groups worked closely to “arrange, purchase and facilitate” the large-scale importation of 1.8 tonnes of MDMA, 136 kilograms of cocaine and 15 kilograms of crystal meth, police allege.
Instagram pictures show Budge and John Ibrahim together at Icebergs bar in Sydney earlier this year.
Budge, a well-known identity on the Sydney night scene, was first spotted with Ibrahim in 2015 when they partied in Ibiza with Kyle Sandilands.
Australian Federal Police began investigating two inter-related organised crime syndicates in mid-2016 after receiving information they were working with like-minded criminals in Dubai and the Netherlands.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said the groups had long-been involved in the importation of illicit substances.
“This is a huge blow to their ongoing criminality,” he told reporters in Sydney today.
“We know we need to make a dent in organised crime and the best way to do that is to take the top of the tree and we will bring the tree down,” Mr Gaughan said.
More than 570 AFP officers took part in dawn raids across Sydney and the operation has also resulted in the seizure of $5.45 million that was allegedly the proceeds of crime.
The seized drugs had an estimated street value of $810 million. “Certainly some figures that have been arrested today are of great significance to NSW Police and obviously of great significance to law enforcement generally,” NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mal Lanyon said.
Mr Gaughan said there were connections at the lower end of the two Australian groups and no suggestion of business rivalries.
He said the operation should be seen as a warning to other Australian organised criminals operating overseas.
“There is a perception in criminal circles in this country that people are untouchable once they go offshore,” Mr Gaughan said.
“Our international partners, one day, will come knocking on your door.”
“This is a very clear message that places like Dubai and the UAE more broadly are working with law enforcement to bring these people to justice.” Extradition proceedings from Dubai are underway and expected to be completed within 60 days.
John Ibrahim’s Dover Heights home was targeted during the raids, along with 28 properties in Vaucluse, Bellevue Hill, Bankstown, Punchbowl and Arncliffe. Mr Ibrahim, a colourful Sydney nightlife figure, has owned or controlled more than 40 licensed venues between 1988 and 2014.
The family has had the “dubious and unwanted honour” of watching their lives play out on the front pages of newspapers, he wrote in a recently released autobiography ‘Last King of the Cross’.
His brothers have been tied up in near-fatal shootings and other attacks over the years.
Dutch police have released a photograph of the multi-million-dollar pile of drugs allegedly destined for Australian streets intercepted during a six-week period in The Netherlands as part of Operation Veyda.
Between May 22 and July 18 the Dutch National Crime Squad and the Public Prosecution Service in the Netherlands - working in conjunction with Australian authorities - prevented several shipments of the drugs from moving from The Netherlands to Australia.
After conducting an investigation for some time, the Dutch moved simultaneously with the raids conducted in Australia and yesterday arrested two men, a 33 year old from Utrecht and a 47 year old from Huizen.
The Public Prosecutors Office said the arrests were part of an ongoing large-scale investigation into an Australian syndicate which were to receive the narcotics.
“As part of an investigation into possession and export of hard drugs to Australia, the Dutch police searched the homes of two suspects and subsequently arrested the men, a 33-year-old from Utrecht and a 47-year-old from Huizen,” the public prosecutors said in a statement.
The 47-year-old is alleged to export 498kg of MDMA, 116kg of cocaine, and 15kg of crystal methamphetamine.
During the raid, police confiscated various items, including 500 euros hidden in the house of the 33 year old and hashish in the house of the 47-year-old.
Police have raided John Ibrahim’s Sydney home, while brothers Fadi and Michael have been arrested in Dubai as part of a major international drugs operation.
AFP officers arrested the Ibrahim brothers as they ate dinner with two known associates, the Daily Telegraph reports.
John Ibrahim’s home in Dover Heights was raided as well as addresses in Vaucluse, Bellevue Hill, Bankstown, Punchbowl and Arncliffe. Over 50 warrants have been issued in the operation targeting an international drug syndicate.
Others arrested included John’s son Daniel, underworld figure Ahmad ‘Rock’ Ahmd, and Mustapha Dib, who was also arrested in Dubai.
A number of police were seen entering John’s home this morning and searching the property’s roof gutters. It is believed John was at home during the operation but was not arrested.
The searches related to “a number of separate, ongoing criminal investigations”, an AFP spokesman said.
“Some of these relate to AFP investigations; some of these relate to joint agency investigations,” they said in a statement.
The AFP said the raids were not terror-related, but refused to confirm reports Michael and Fadi Ibrahim were arrested in Dubai in relation to one of the stings.
The allegations involve a possible link to a plot to import hundreds of kilograms of MDMA into Australia, according to the ABC.
John Ibrahim celebrated the launch of his autobiograpy Last King of the X last week.
A colourful Sydney night-life figure, John has owned or controlled more than 40 licensed venues between 1988 and 2014.
The family has had the “dubious and unwanted honour” of watching their lives play out on the front pages of newspapers, he wrote in his book.
The brothers have also been tied up in shootings and other attacks over the years.
Michael Ibrahim was hit in the shoulder by one of a number of bullets fired at him on his way home in Sydney’s CBD in January 2015.
Fadi, John’s second-youngest brother, also survived a near-fatal shooting outside a home in Sydney’s north in June 2009.
Dib walked free from jail in February 2016 after his conviction for the murder of a young woman was quashed.
He was handed a sentence of at least 30 years in 2012 for the execution-style killing, but three judges found there was reasonable doubt he was responsible. Ahmad’s brother is slain gangland kingpin Wally Ahmad, who was gunned down on the rooftop car park of Bankstown Central shopping centre in April 2016, one of a string of bloody executions that rocked the city over the past 16 months.