The Australian Crime Commission said that more than Aus USD 580 million of drugs and assets had been seized, including Aus USD 26 million in cash, in a year-long sting codenamed Eligo targeting the offshore laundering of funds generated by outlaw motorcycle gangs, people-smugglers and others.

According to the ACC, the operation had disrupted 18 serious and organized crime groups and singled out 128 individuals of interest in more than 20 countries, tapping information from agencies including the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
    
Eligo saw 105 people arrested on 190 separate charges and resulted in the closure of three major clandestine methamphetamine labs and Australia's largest-ever urban hydroponic cannabis hothouse in Sydney last November.

"The task force focused on high-threat money laundering activities and, as a result, revealed a range of different crime types which has led to these extraordinary outcomes," said Australia's Justice Minister Michael Keenan.

"Seizing more than USD 550 million worth of drugs and cash is a significant blow to the criminal economy," he added.

Legitimate international cash wiring services were a major focus of the operation, with the government's anti-laundering agency AUSTRAC saying they had been identified as at "high risk of being exploited by serious and organized crime groups".
    
According to a Fairfax media expose on the operation, criminals targeted foreign nationals and students in Australia awaiting remittances from overseas, hijacking the transaction by depositing dirty money to the payee and then taking the cash wired from offshore.
    
Fairfax said that at least one of the exchange houses used in the Middle East and Asia delivered a cut from every dollar it laundered to Lebanon's powerful Shiite movement and Syria ally Hezbollah, which is banned as a terrorist organization in Australia.

(Agencies)

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