Operation ATHENA warrants uncover hidden weapons cache

A 33 year old man from the South West town of Collie is facing multiple weapons charges following the execution of Commonwealth and State search warrants by the Australian Border Force (ABF) and WA Police Force (WAPOL) on a residential property.

The activity, which involved officers from ABF Regional Investigations and Bunbury Detectives with support from an ABF firearms detector dog, was a part of Operation Athena, a multi-agency initiative designed to target the trafficking and use of illicit firearms throughout Australia.

Six unlicensed firearms were seized along with a variety of ammunition, several controlled and prohibited items and drug implements.

It will be alleged most of the weapons were stored in a concealed compartment behind the stove in the kitchen.

The accused man is not the holder of a Firearms Licence.

The man was arrested by WA Police Force. He has been charged with:

•Unlicensed person came into possession of three or more firearms
•2 x Unlicensed Person Possess Firearm/Ammunition
•3 x Possessed a prohibited weapon
•2 x Possession of contrivance known as a Silencer
•2 x Possessed any drug paraphernalia in or on which there was a prohibited drug or plant

He was refused bail and was due to appear in the Bunbury Magistrates Court today, Friday 8 November 2019.

The investigation commenced in September when ABF officers at the Sydney Gateway Facility examined an air parcel sent from Israel and allegedly found a rifle chassis that incorporates a folding stock, which is a prohibited item in Australia.

ABF WA Superintendent of Investigations, Clinton Sims, said the ABF would continue to target people who attempted to import firearms, parts or accessories into Australia without a proper permit.

“These items are highly restricted and have the potential to cause great community harm. ABF officers around the country are highly skilled in targeting suspect consignments and detecting firearms, no matter how they are concealed,” Superintendent Sims said.

“Yesterday’s results highlight the excellent working relationship between state, federal and international law enforcement partners and their efforts to combat the scourge of illegal firearms.

“Under the Customs Act, possible charges include ten years’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $525,000, or both.”

Superintendent Geoff Stewart from WA Police Force’s South West District Office said the detection made by ABF and the subsequent seizure of weapons by Bunbury Detectives and ABF personnel has made the South West community a safer place.

“Illicit weapons can cause significant harm to the community, and this seizure highlights how the strong partnerships between state and Commonwealth agencies extends to protect communities in regional WA.

“I encourage anyone with information regarding people in our community who are involved in the manufacture, importation or distribution of illicit firearms to report the information to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 – callers can remain anonymous, and we will act on the information.”

Operation Athena involves all policing jurisdictions as well as a number of Federal agencies including Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC, Australian Taxation Office, Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Defence Force.