Police arrest 17 in Dubai, Netherlands, Australia drug raids

Updated 09 August 2017

Police arrest 17 in Dubai, Netherlands, Australia drug raids

SYDNEY: Police in Australia, Dubai and the Netherlands have arrested 17 people and seized nearly two tons of narcotics in raids the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said on Tuesday had broken up two interlinked Middle Eastern crime syndicates.
In simultaneous operations, nine men and a woman were arrested in Sydney on Tuesday and five men were arrested in the UAE by Dubai police, according to the AFP.
Authorities in the Netherlands at the same time arrested two men alleged to have been responsible for arranging the supply of drugs to an Australia-based syndicate, the AFP said.
“The people we allege are part of this syndicate are Middle Eastern organized crime figures that are well-known to law enforcement, and for decades this group has flaunted their wealth and activities, telling the community they were untouchable,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said in a statement.
“Today, it should be obvious that they are not,” he said.
Police raided 32 homes in Sydney and issued 52 warrants on Tuesday in what they said was one of the biggest attacks on organized crime in Australian history, according to an AFP spokesman.
The investigation began in mid-2016, targeting organized crime groups attempting to import large quantities of drugs and tobacco, according to authorities.
A container of drugs was seized in the Netherlands in July, which was allegedly bound for Australia in shipping containers, the AFP spokesman said.
A total of 1.8 tons of MDMA, also known as ecstasy, 136 kg of cocaine and 15 kg of crystal methamphetamine were seized by authorities in the Netherlands, Australian police said.
The AFP estimated the value of the drugs at up to 810 million Australian dollars ($642 million) if sold on the street in Australia.
A total of around 7 million Australian dollars in cash and property were seized in Sydney as part of the operation, according to authorities.


Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month

Updated 35 min 8 sec ago

Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month

  • The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17
  • The protest movement is in part fueled by the worst economic crisis

BEIRUT: Protesters blocked several main roads across Lebanon on Friday as unprecedented demonstrations against a political elite accused of corruption and incompetence entered their fourth month.
The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17 has resurged this week, over delays in forming a new cabinet to address the country’s growing economic crisis.
No progress seemed to have been made on a final lineup, which protesters demand be made up solely of independent experts and empty of traditional political parties.
In central Beirut, dozens of protesters Friday stood between parked cars blocking a key thoroughfare linking the city’s east and west.
“We blocked the road with cars because it’s something they can’t move,” Marwan Karam said.
The protester condemned what he regarded as efforts to form yet another government representing the usual carve-up of power between the traditional parties.
“We don’t want a government of masked political figures,” the 30-year-old told AFP. “Any such government will fall. We won’t give it any chance in the street.”
Forming a new cabinet is often a drawn-out process in Lebanon, where a complex system seeks to maintain balance between the various political parties and a multitude of religious confessions.
Nearby, Carlos Yammine, 32, said he did not want yet another “cake-sharing government.”
“What we have asked for from the start of the movement is a reduced, transitional, emergency government of independents,” he said, leaning against his car.


Elsewhere, demonstrators closed roads including in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli, though some were later reopened, the National News Agency said.
The protest movement is in part fueled by the worst economic crisis that Lebanon has witnessed since its 1975-1990 civil war.
The protests this week saw angry demonstrators attack banks following the imposition of sharp curbs on cash withdrawals to stem a liquidity crisis.
On Thursday night, protesters vandalized three more banks in the capital’s Hamra district, smashing their glass fronts and graffitiing ATMs, an AFP photographer said.
Earlier, Lebanon’s security services released most of the 100-plus protesters detained over the previous 48 hours, lawyers said.
Human Rights Watch on Friday condemned the arrests and the response of security forces to protests outside a police station on Wednesday night demanding detainees be released.
“The unacceptable level of violence against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters on January 15 calls for a swift independent and transparent investigation,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at the rights watchdog.
Over the past few months, the Lebanese pound — long pegged to the US dollar at 1,507 — has fallen in value on the unofficial market to around 2,500.
The World Bank has warned that the poverty rate in Lebanon could rise from a third to a half if the political crisis is not remedied fast.