View Full Version : ASICs and cocaine smuggling - Sydney

24th Sep 2009, 17:03
THE Federal Government granted unrestricted airport security passes to alleged members of a cocaine smuggling syndicate linked to the Bra Boys surf gang, despite police intelligence that showed the men had criminal connections and convictions.

The alleged syndicate is suspected of using their infiltration of Sydney Airport to conduct a series of cocaine importations dating back to at least 2006.

The Australian Federal Police operation which culminated in several arrests earlier this week indicates advances in combating the organised crime infiltration of airports, but it also exposes the gaping holes that still exist in the nation's aviation security.

In 1996, a physical education teacher from Randwick Boys High School in Sydney, Kevin Geraghty, became the target of AFP agents, who believed he was part of a racket sourcing cocaine from Colombia and smuggling it into Sydney via Los Angeles. His modus operandi was simple but effective: couriers would strap packs of cocaine onto their body and, via a flight from LA to Sydney, stash it in the plane's rubbish bins.

In Sydney, airport associates of Geraghty would pick up the plane's
rubbish - and the cocaine.

Wayne Williams, one of the men arrested by the federal police this week over a one-kilogram cocaine importation that was intercepted on Sunday, was an associate of Geraghty. Williams is a former employee of Gate Gourmet, the airline catering firm that employed Jose Alquillera and Mathew Hay, who were also arrested this week in connection with the importation. Another man, Craig Nicholson, used to be a manager at Gate Gourmet until his recent redundancy and is also alleged by federal agents to be a major player in the syndicate - he allegedly hoped to pocket $50,000.

The men were allegedly part of a plan to smuggle cocaine onto a plane in LA, where it would be hidden and later retrieved by the catering staff in Sydney.

The federal police taskforce that arrested the syndicate was formed after the 2005 Wheeler inquiry, which found huge gaps in airport security exposed the nation to crime and terrorism.

Three of the men arrested had been granted Aviation Security Identification Cards by the federal Department of Transport, allowing them to access sensitive areas of the airport and to bypass customs checks. Two of them had previous criminal convictions and at least one was the subject of significant police criminal intelligence.

The issuers of the security cards cannot access police intelligence or act on criminal convictions deemed unrelated to aviation security, even if they are linked to organised crime. This aids criminals and makes the job even harder for police.

Cannot access police intel for the purposes of issuing an ASIC? That's a surprise.

Meantime keep on checking those pilots for water or nail clippers.

24th Sep 2009, 22:10
Don't the actual card issuers just on-send your details to ASIO and AFP ? The feds then say yes or no.

Being charitable to the feds in this drug case, but it's possible that those ASICs could have been approved in an attempt to ensnare the unsuspecting participants.

There's an enquiry into security at the moment, get your comments in.
Parliament of Australia: Senate: Committees: Australian Crime Commission Committee: Inquiry into the adequacy of aviation and maritime security measures to combat serious and organised crime : Terms of Reference (http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/acc_ctte/aviation_maritime/tor.htm)

Terrorism excluded from Senate inquiry into íserious and organisedí border crime Ė Plane Talking (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/planetalking/2009/09/15/terrorism-excluded-from-inquiry-into-serious-organised-border-crime/)

24th Sep 2009, 23:50
Don't the actual card issuers just on-send your details to ASIO and AFP ? The feds then say yes or no.
That's pretty well what happens. Issuing bodies lodge the applications through Auscheck who then farm it out to ASIO, AFP etc. The issuers don't have don't have to worry about what criminal past an applicant may have. They just get an eligible or not eligible result. The applicant then has to apply to the secretary if they want to appeal a decision by Auscheck.

From the Aviation Transport Security Regulations (2005). Any conviction of which would normally preclude issue of an ASIC, notwithstanding any appeal:

Aviation security relevant offence means an offence of a kind mentioned in the following table against a law of the Commonwealth, or of a State or Territory, or of any other country or part of a country:

Item Kind of offence
1 An offence involving dishonesty
2 An offence involving violence or a threat of violence
3 An offence involving intentional damage to property or a threat of damage to property
4 An offence constituted by the production, possession, supply, import or export of a substance that is:
(a) a narcotic substance within the meaning of the Customs Act 1901; or
(b) a drug, within the meaning of:
(i) regulation 10 of the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958; or
(ii) regulation 5 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956
5 An offence, of a kind dealt with in Part II of the Crimes Act 1914, against the Government of:
(a) the Commonwealth or a State or Territory; or
(b) a country or part of a country other than Australia
6 An offence against Part 2 of the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991
7 An offence against Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code
8 An offence constituted by the production, possession, supply, import or export of explosives or explosive devices

25th Sep 2009, 02:20
YPJT - those offences in section 4 will not preclude an ASIC being issued unless there were multiple convictions or a single conviction that resulted in imprisonment.

(2) A person has an adverse criminal record if the person:
(a) has been convicted of an aviation-security-relevant
offence and sentenced to imprisonment; or
(b) in the case of a person who has been convicted twice or
more of aviation-security-relevant offences, but no
sentence of imprisonment was imposed ó received 1 of
those convictions within the 12 months ending on the date
when the relevant background check was conducted.

25th Sep 2009, 02:39
Cheers Bubba.
I should have read the regs a bit more thoroughly. There are apparently a lot of people out there with MSICs and ASICs who fall into the category you highlighted but have also been able to successfully appeal and gain their cards.

25th Sep 2009, 03:31
It's not the drug trafficers that i worry about having a security clearance, it's this guy
'Do-it-yourself jihad' manual editor sentenced to 12 years' jail
September 25, 2009 - 12:06PM
Twelve years' jail ... Belal Saadallah Khazaal.

Twelve years' jail ... Belal Saadallah Khazaal. Photo: AFP

A former Sydney Qantas cleaner was today sentenced to a maximum 12-year jail term for compiling a "do-it-yourself jihad" manual.

Belal Saadallah Khazaal, 39, who has also worked as a journalist, was last year found guilty by a NSW Supreme Court jury of making a document connected with assistance in a terrorist act.

He is the first person in Australia to be convicted of the charge, which carries a maximum jail term of 15 years.

Ordering him to serve at least nine years behind bars, Justice Megan Latham said his crime was "not far from the worst category of the offence".

She said the "terrorism training manual" - which was published on a website endorsed by al-Qaeda - advocated "widespread and indiscriminate loss of life, serious injury and serious property damage" in countries considered to be enemies of Islam.

The court heard Khazaal, a journalist for the magazine Call to Islam, compiled a 110-page book that singled out world leaders, including former US president George Bush, as targets for assassination.

It also contained detailed instructions on how to shoot down planes, attack vehicles and set booby traps in rooms.

US international terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmann, who was called as a witness at Khazaal's trial, described the book as a "do-it-yourself jihad" manual, aimed at people who "don't have Osama bin Ladenís telephone number".

Khazaal compiled the book, Provisions on the Rules of Jihad, under a false name using a computer at his Lakemba home in September 2003.

He arranged for the manual, which consisted mostly of material written by others, to be posted on an extremist website containing publications by leaders of known terrorist organisations.

The Supreme Court heard that, in December 2003, a military court in Lebanon convicted Khazaal of terrorism-related offences, including forming a terrorist association for the purpose of committing crimes against people and property.

Convicted in his absence, he was sentenced by the court in Beirut to 10 years' jail with hard labour.

Following his sentence in the Supreme Court and with time already served, Khazaal will be eligible for parole in 2017.

Outside the court, Khazaal's lawyer, Adam Houda, said that his client would appeal.

Kim Arlington is a Herald Court Reporter.

Im fairly sure the cleaners still don't go past security on the way to work.

25th Sep 2009, 03:55
If this report is accurate and his appeal is denied then when he is finally released he should be deported straight back to Lebanon.

In fact anyone who has moved to Australia and is convicted of a crime involving violence such as terrorism or planning an act of terrorism should be deported.

mates rates
25th Sep 2009, 04:27
That's the way it works in Canada.
But here,Australians are so appathetic and the lefty minority groups control everything.The politicians are so weak,you have no chance to deport such people.We will eventually pay the surpreme price for that appathy.

25th Sep 2009, 12:20
Why would any sane aviation professional think that the Australian airport security pass confers any element of legitimacy to any individual?

It is just an invention of politicians in their pretence that something is being done in response to the threat of terrorism.

Your keen observation and gut feeling will serve you much better than any artificially imposed bureaucratic layers of manufactured Gov bullsh!t.

You should only trust the AFP, the Special Forces of the State police, the SAS and the Military Forces of Australia.

25th Sep 2009, 21:23
You should only trust the AFP, the Special Forces of the State police, the SAS and the Military Forces of Australia.

Maybe. Captain Shane Della-Vedova stole and sold 10 rocket launchers. Later on-sold to a terrorist cell. Remember?

Terror arms soldier jailed | The Daily Telegraph (http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw-act/terror-arms-soldier-jailed/story-e6freuzi-1111116354690)

or here

Soldier jailed over rocket launcher thefts - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/05/15/2245508.htm)

He got 10 years for that.

25th Sep 2009, 23:29
How do these :mad: get into Australia in the first place. Send back to where they came from.

Mr. Hat
26th Sep 2009, 00:01
Im fairly sure the cleaners still don't go past security on the way to work

rcmdonal, no they don't and nor do a host of other people. In a previous life I worked on the ground at a major international airport. Having already worked as a pilot I already had an appreciation for security screening/sterile areas ect ect. I was shocked when on my first day I was shown how to get access to my workplace. Simply punch the code or ring the bell and walk airside. It was the easiest thing in the world. Having worked in this job for queit some time I realised that the screening process (that I now have to go thru because I'm in uniform or travelling as a passenger) is totally useless and a complete waste of time.

I'm the sort of person that is happy to stick to rules and understand why they are there but can't for the life of me believe the security processes at airports are the way they are given the gaping holes in the system.

Scenarios like:

Having to disembark everybody on our charter flight to go thru screening because there is a rpt arrival.

Not being able to take a coffee thru security yet I can buy one on the other side of security are two of thousands of illogical rubbish that people in DOTARS and the various authorities have come up with that really make me wonder why we pay their wages.

And you know what? Its only a matter of time before someone uses this amatuer security turnout against a 180 people and puts the entire industry into a spin like 9/11 all over again.

26th Sep 2009, 01:36
Mr Hat,
Spot on! pse check your PMs.

26th Sep 2009, 02:24
What really should concern most people is just WHAT ELSE could these people have smuggled aboard.
A couple of kilos of Hi -explosive is much more worrying than cocaine.
The security system is a totally ineffective operation except to make the ignorant travelling public feel a bit better.
If they only knew what really does go on and just how stupid and lax some rules are then they would really have need to worry. !!!!!!!
Security as it is is a paper tiger whose teeth have been pulled as well and the legal system seems to be designed for the benefit of the offenders these days..
Try doing this in Saudi Arabia and watch how quickly the offenders have there ears severely lowered.
Rod H

Twitter n Bisted
26th Sep 2009, 04:18
The one thing I cannot understand is once you have an ASIC you can go anywhere on that airport. Baggage , pax handling and departure areas, ramp, the jet base etc etc.
In most airports outside OZ your airport ID will display where you can and canít go. e.g. Ramp areas only for engineering. Baggage is often split into "make up" area and baggage arrival dept and is unlikely to have access to both.

With simple ID/area system it makes even the lowliest of security guards a valid deterrent to people being where they shouldn't. Especially if the penalty is losing your ASIC.
Cant smuggle if you don't have access. :=

I am not naive enough to think that this prevents all smuggling activity but at least it enables all staff to challenge someone whom does not display the correct credentials for the area.
Currently anyone who has a uniform and a current ASIC can do as they please with little chance of being challenged by anyone yet alone airport security.
We may marvel at the system or process to receive an Australian ASIC and the lax security regarding ground staff access to the airport but for mine the most worrying is the fact once you have an ASIC there is no system at all.
My 2 cents

Worrals in the wilds
26th Sep 2009, 06:50
T&B, good point, hadn't heard that one. That said, I don't think it would have prevented this racket as the guys were working where they were supposed to be. Nor would it have prevented the Sydney baggage handler cocaine smuggling racket for the same reasons. The international departure areas are access controlled by Customs to a certain extent (s244AA areas) but the vigilance varies between ports.

I believe airport workers should be encouraged to question people out of their 'area', as this method is very effective at identifying interlopers. Some people will do it (particularly when encouraged by airport law enforcement), but many more will just think 'hm, that's funny' and leave it at that. Airport/airline staff are a valuable security resource that is largely ignored and has been totally alienated by recent half arsed security measures.

All an ASIC card signifies is that a person hasn't been convicted of several specific offences. It doesn't guarantee that the bearer is an honest person, incapable of committing a crime. All the ASIC system does is prevent known criminals (and only certain types of criminals) from working at airports.

In any case, all the security in the world won't prevent smuggling. People smuggle drugs into prisons, despite access restriction, strip searches on entry and constant surveillance. Airports that employ several thousand people haven't got a hope of providing that level of security. The best way to detect criminals is with well funded, motivated, highly trained border organizations. This was a nice hit and well done to all involved.

P.S. and to bypass customs checksAn ASIC does no such thing.

Mr. Hat
26th Sep 2009, 07:44
From memory unless you are in an area for legitimate business purposes you can't just wander into random areas throughout the airport unless you fancy a reasonably sized fine.

The reality is that the whole security at airports issue needs to be totally redone from scratch. Every person that has had any involvement with the introduction of the laws and procedures since 9/11 needs to be told to pack up their stuff and leave. They should also be black banned from any government job at all because they have proved that they are totally inept and incompetent. Basically they should scrap the whole department and rebuild it from scratch with people that demonstrate at least some basic forms of common sense. A five year old could get around the current system and I think its a miracle we haven't seen any seriously ugly events to date.

Terrorists no doubt come in all shapes, sizes, colours and levels of intellect and given the current system you'd have to say that its only a matter of time. All the confiscated tweezers and lynx Africa deodorants aren't going to mean diddly squat when this happens.

Unfortunately I can't see it improving because at the top of the chain we have Albanese and I'll take a good punt on him having the very lowest of the IQ's of all of Canberra both sides included.

Its the sort of common sense that wont let you use your previous ASIC when renewing your current one for ID that makes me look at the tax dollar and really wonder. Last time I was faced with this dilemma I handed over my Cheif Pilot's mobile number and asked them to explain why I wouldn't be able to attend work whilst my drivers licence was being processed. Needless to say the ASIC was promptly processed.

26th Sep 2009, 11:23
there is no doubt about it, the laws are loose and the nature of them allows convicted criminals to work on our airports, i personally know of people who have stealing offences (conviction of disonesty?) granted ASIC for 2 years!

27th Sep 2009, 00:25
topend3, That is something of a difficult one to get the correct balance on. There is never any guarantee that a person with a previous conviction will not reoffend, although many don't. On the other hand, who is to say that someone has no priors before gainining their ASIC will not decide to use the opportunity to carry out a theft, drug, or worse type of aviation offence?

FWIW, I know of one individual sentenced to 3yrs (totally suspended) for a violent assault. That was nearly 10 yrs ago and he now has had 3 subsequent ASICs and is a valuable member of the aviation workforce. The processes to get an ASIC on appeal are not easy and they will not get it right every time but I think in the main they do. Even though the subject of this thread would tend to prove me wrong.