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How Sydney has turned into a gangster’s paradise: Guns, drugs and bodies piling up

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How Sydney has turned into a gangster’s paradise: Guns, drugs and bodies piling up

Sydney’s streets have erupted in violence with the race to re-supply the nation’s largest drug market sparking bloody gangland battles and among teenage groups fighting for ‘territory’ in their post codes.

Bodies have been piling up in the Harbour City in the past 18 months, with 13 contract killings linked to the bitter feud between the Hamzy and Alameddine crime clans.

The highly-planned hits – which have sometimes involved using secret tracking devices attached to cars – have been so precisely executed that investigators are mostly powerless to stop the war from escalating.

Terrified witnesses are are often too scared to speak over fears of retaliation, making it nearly impossible to prosecute the perpetuators.

Police in New South Wales are so overwhelmed that Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith told cabinet ministers and senior public servants in a secret briefing ‘we’re [police] swinging a pool noodle and they’ve [crime bosses] got guns’, Sydney Morning Herald reported.

In a desperate move to quell the violence, state police are teaming up with the Australian Federal Police and intelligence agencies in a new ‘super taskforce’ dubbed Erebus. 

Meanwhile, postcode gangs operating at the bottom of the criminal pyramid in the rugged streets of western Sydney may be lacking the same level of criminal sophistication, but their crimes are equally as ruthless, with several fatal stabbings and bashings connected to the neighbourhood beefs.

The gangs flaunt their status online by posting images of themselves with weapons, designer clothes and expensive jewellery.

Bodies have been piling up in the Harbour City in the past 18 months with at least a dozen contract killings linked to the bitter feud between the Hamzy and Alameddine crime clans

Postcode gangs operating at the bottom of the criminal pyramid have been at war for control of the street

Postcode gangs operating at the bottom of the criminal pyramid have been at war for control of the street 

Postcode feuds are thought to have been the reason for several fatal stabbings and bashings in recent years

Postcode feuds are thought to have been the reason for several fatal stabbings and bashings in recent years

‘During the pandemic lockdowns, many people lost contact with their drug suppliers on the street level,’ organised crime and dark networks expert Professor Mark Lauchs told Daily Mail Australia.

‘I would say that has caused a lot of built-up tension, and the rush to get back in business and create new illicit opportunities may be part of the reason for this run of violence.’

Wastewater testing by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission in August 2021 – a time when much of New South Wales was under lockdown – found use of heroin and meth decreased significantly while cocaine consumption fell to its lowest levels on record.

Now that international borders have reopened along with pubs and nightclubs, international drug cartels are trying desperately to fill the void.

This was tragically highlighted by the death of a suspected drug smuggler who was found floating in the Port of Newcastle.

Organised crime detectives believe the South American wearing technical dive gear was trying to bring ashore about $20million haul of cocaine attached to the hull of a Panama-flagged cargo ship.

A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a diver who was trying to recover $20 million of cocaine from the hull of a ship in Newcastle

A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a diver who was trying to recover $20 million of cocaine from the hull of a ship in Newcastle   

Police divers are pictured in a recovery operation after a diver was found dead close to a massive cocaine haul

Police divers are pictured in a recovery operation after a diver was found dead close to a massive cocaine haul

Australia’s largest coal port, along with neighbouring Lake Macquarie, has long been a beacon for international drug importers, with the nation’s most lucrative market for illicit substances – Sydney – just a two-hour drive south.

The route is often referred to among seasoned organised crime detectives as Australia’s drug ‘superhighway’.

But the NSW Police and the AFP admit it’s one of many locations on Australia’s east coast currently being targeted by international drug syndicates.

Once the product makes it ashore, it’s distributed among organised crime groups who divvy it up and offload it among lower-level dealers who in turn sell the drugs to runners below them.

Assistant Commissioner Smith said in his high-level briefing that incoming drug cargo is ‘put out to auction and sold to the highest bidder’ with the illicit packages delivered via an entrenched corrupt ‘transport network’.

Once in the hands of larger players, drugs like cocaine are often sold down dozens of times before reaching recreational users.

With a wave of newly imported narcotics recently flooding the market, experts say it’s left a lot of room for competition at all levels of the drug business.

Comancheros Outlaw Motorcycle Gang have been providing muscle for the Alameddine crime groups

Comancheros Outlaw Motorcycle Gang have been providing muscle for the Alameddine crime groups

Bullet holes can be seen in the glass window of the Bodyfit Gym in Auburn after the shooting

Bullet holes can be seen in the glass window of the Bodyfit Gym in Auburn after the shooting

Tarek Zahed (pictured, right) and brother Omar (left) were gunned down outside a gym on Tuesday night - with Omar dying at the scene after being shot in the head

Tarek Zahed (pictured, right) and brother Omar (left) were gunned down outside a gym on Tuesday night – with Omar dying at the scene after being shot in the head

A new police taskforce has been established to coordinate investigations into a spate of fatal shootings in Sydney involving rival organised crime gangs. Pictured: Police speak to a man after the fatal shooting of Rami Iskander

Pictured: Rami Iskander was gunned down amid Sydney's gang war

A new taskforce has been set up to investigate the fatal shooting of the nephew (Rami Iskander, pictured) of slain gangster Mahmoud Ahmad as police chase three theories to why he was killed

Since August 2020 there have been 13 murders linked to the turf war between the Hamzy and Alameddine crime familes.

The latest shooting happened on Saturday when the nephew of slain gangland figure Mahmoud ‘Brownie’ Ahmad was shot dead at his western Sydney home – the third fatal shooting in recent weeks.

Rami Iskander, 23, was shot in the torso in front of his pregnant wife and two-year-old child at his home on Knox Street at Belmore just before 4am on Saturday. 

Iskander was killed just days after his uncle Ahmad was sprayed with bullets outside a Greenacre home on April 27 after a $1million bounty was placed on his head.

Detectives are chasing down three theories trying to explain why Iskander was killed, including whether or not his enemies were trying to prevent him from avenging his father’s death.

The community was already reeling from the May 10 hit on Commanchero bikie Sergeant-at-arms Tarek Zahed and his brother Omar, who were both peppered with bullets while working out at the Bodyfit gym in Auburn, Sydney’s west, on Tuesday.

Omar – who is also a notorious underworld figure – died at the scene while Tarek was shot ten times including in the face and survived.

It’s understood the bikie gang have built an alliance with the Alameddine syndicate, who are now regarded as Sydney’s most powerful and dangerous organised crime group after picking off hamzy associates ‘like flies’ in recent months.

‘Muscle is the skill set that bikies naturally have,’ Professor Lauchs said.

‘They’re big boofy blokes with the propensity for violence and that is a service they have been providing to crime groups since the 1960s.

‘Debt collection is one of the main things, but also protection and intimidation.’

Strikeforce Erebus has now been established to try and stop the bloodshed with the Australian Federal Police and intelligence agencies stepping in to assist overwhelmed state cops.

The ‘super taskforce’ will have wide sweeping powers to investigate the spate of shootings as well as drug importations, the supply of firearms and the co-ordinated theft of luxury vehicles often used in the shootings.

A 2021 raid on the Comancheros bikie gang uncovered huge amounts of cash (pictured), as well as drugs and guns

 A 2021 raid on the Comancheros bikie gang uncovered huge amounts of cash (pictured), as well as drugs and guns

More than a dozen weapons were seized with police arresting 42 people across the country in relation to the alleged drug syndicate

 More than a dozen weapons were seized with police arresting 42 people across the country in relation to the alleged drug syndicate

A luxury Audi sedan was seized by the AFP as part of a joint investigation with the U.S. FBI using a covert messaging app -  ANOM

A luxury Audi sedan was seized by the AFP as part of a joint investigation with the U.S. FBI using a covert messaging app –  ANOM

At the lower end of the criminal pyramid, Sydney’s postcode gangs including OneFour from the mean streets of Sydney’s Mt Druitt and their cross-town rivals – 21 District – who hail from the city’s inner west, are also at war.

Recruits within each gang are taught to take pride in their postcode above all else, often brawling, stealing and even killing in the name of their hometowns.

The various street gangs which are scattered across Sydney have even received international attention, with drill rap groups creating hit songs about violence and life on the streets.

In a case that shocked Australia last month ride attendant Uati ‘Pele’ Faletolu was knifed in the chest in front of terrified families at the Sydney Royal Easter Show as a wild brawl broke out between two rival groups.

As police moved in to break up the brawl, a teen on the ground in handcuffs yelled out: ‘Six, seven, motherf*****’.

The words fuelled suspicions the tragic stabbing was part of a postcode rivalry between two groups, 67 from Doonside and 27 from Mount Druitt.

The groups are named after their respective postcodes 2767, and 2770.

In video of the arrest three chilling words ring out as police officers secure the teenager's handcuffs: 'Six, seven, motherf*****'

In video of the arrest three chilling words ring out as police officers secure the teenager’s handcuffs: ‘Six, seven, motherf*****’

One of the worst instances of apparent postcode gang crime was the death of teenager, Jason Galleghan, who was allegedly brutally beaten to death inside a derelict western Sydney home in August last year.

The 16-year-old boy was found bloodied, bruised and unresponsive.

Within hours of finding his dead body, police were alerted to footage circulating among young people on social media which appeared to show the boy denouncing ’21 District’.

Emotional and demonstrably in pain, the boy was forced to repeat the phrase ‘f**k the ’21,’ followed by declaring ’27’ was ‘on top’, a court heard. 

He was allegedly forced to yell obscenities about the ‘inner west’ postcode, court documents revealed.

Recruits within each gang are taught to take pride in their postcode above all else, often brawling, stealing and even killing in the name of their hometowns.

Youth outreach group Junction Works confirmed Sydney’s brutal ‘postcode violence’ had infiltrated younger communities.

‘It is across all of Western Sydney that this is happening,’ a spokesman said.

‘It’s an ongoing issue. It’s mainly in the Guildford and Blacktown areas but there’s also recently been issues with gang violence among young people in different postcodes within the Canterbury-Bankstown area too.’

Sydney rapper Big Kash slammed the toxic culture which promoted and glorified violence within young fans.

‘This is the life that all you dumb rappers glorify to these little kids without telling them the consequences of this life… condolences to the family, nothing but pain and misery on that side of the fence,’ he said in a tribute post.

Recent violence prompted NSW Police to set up Strike Force Imbala, which consists of 20 detectives and analysis experts and monitors the activities of youth gangs.

‘They are very much into the rap culture talking about (Los Angeles rival gangs) The Crips and Bloods and other violent groups,’ one officer previously told The Daily Telegraph.

‘This is about being on the front foot and also letting these young members know if you want to be part of a gang you are going to be targeted for police attention.’

Children as young as 13 are joining gangs and are often still active in their early 20s.

‘There is the danger that if you don’t get to some of those involved early they are recruited by proper criminal gangs like the bikies,’ Western Sydney University lecturer and former NSW detective Dr Mike Kennedy has previously warned.

Tim Watson-Munro, a criminal psychologist, said young people have always sought a sense of belonging and community within their peer group.

But he explained this becomes dangerous when young people find ‘security in numbers’ within dysfunctional groups.

‘This leads to trouble,’ he said.

A former New South Wales detective said increased violence in lower socioeconomic communities was often due to a sense of hopelessness.

‘A high proportion of public housing, a high proportion of migrants and a high proportion of unemployment, in any city in the world that is a recipe for disaster,’ Western Sydney University Dr Mike Kennedy said.

‘The governments leave it to the police to deal with so they don’t have to accept responsibility.’

Operation Ironside seized massive amounts of guns, drugs and cash back in 2021 highlighted the vast extent of organised crime in Australia

Operation Ironside seized massive amounts of guns, drugs and cash back in 2021 highlighted the vast extent of organised crime in Australia  

HOW THE UNDERWORLD HAS ERUPTED IN SYDNEY 

AUGUST 29, 2020 – Fares Abounader, a Comanchero bikie was shot dead in a drive-by attack as his wife and young child were inside their Panania house.

OCTOBER 4, 2020 – Shaylin Zreika – an associate of the Alameddines – is beaten with a metal bar in a street fight in Strathfield

OCTOBER 18, 2020 – Rafat Alameddine’s former home is shot up in a drive-by shooting

OCTOBER 19, 2020 – Mejid Hamzy is shot dead in Condell Park

JANUARY 30, 2021 – Mustafa Naaman is shot dead in Hurstville in a suspected mistaken identity attack on Ibrahem Hamze

JANUARY 30, 2021 – Mejed Derbas is shot dead in Smithfield

FEBRUARY 15, 2021 – Bilal Hamze’s mother Maha Hamze comes under gunfire again in another drive-by shooting at her home in Auburn

MARCH 12, 2021 – A home linked to the Alameddine family in Guildford is shot up

AUGUST 6, 2021 – Alameddine low-level associate Shady Kanj is shot in Chester Hill and found dead by police in Guildford

AUGUST 14, 2021 – Police foil alleged gangland hit on Ibrahem Hamze when they spot stolen Mercedes in North Sydney

OCTOBER 20, 2021 – Salim and Toufik Hamze are gunned down outside their home in Guildford

NOVEMBER 10, 2021 – Drive-by shooting at Guildford home of Alameddine associate. No-one is hurt

JANUARY 6, 2022 – Brother of Bassam Hamzy, Ghassan Amoun, is shot dead at 35 years of age in a brazen daylight execution as he sat in a BMW outside an apartment building in Western Sydney.

APRIL, 4, 2022 – Mahmoud ‘Brownie’ Ahmad aka ‘Mr Big’ is gunned down in a hail of bullets – after being warned by police that he had a million-dollar bounty on his head for his role in deadly shooting in Greenacre.

MAY 10, 2022 – Comanchero bikies with links to the Alameddine clan, Tarek Zahed and his brother Omar were shot at while training at a gym in Auburn. Omar died at the seen while Tarek miraculously survived after being shot 10 times including in the face.

MAY 14: Rami Iskander, 23, was shot in the torso in front of his pregnant wife and two-year-old child at his home on Knox Street at Belmore just before 4am on Saturday. He is the nephew of Brownie Ahmad

MAY 15: NSW Police launch Strikeforce Erebus to try and tackle the growing problem of gang violence with the Australian Federal Police and intelligence agencies partnering with state cops to stop the bloodshed.

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