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Australia Uncle of Aussie pop star Jai Waetford 'part of Sydney drug syndicate'

16:06  24 october  2021
16:06  24 october  2021 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Six men, including the uncle of the Australian pop star Jai Waetford, have been arrested over an alleged failed plan to import illegal drugs through Sydney airport.

Astro Waetford, 36, has been charged for his role in a syndicate that allegedly planned to smuggle prohibited drugs into Australia in the cargo box of an international flight.

Those arrested include one current and five former employees of the ground handling company Dnata, owned by the Emirates airline.

The men were arrested on October 13 with police alleging members kept in communication through encrypted AN0M phones.

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The alleged syndicate members are six of 29 other 'trusted insiders' who have been arrested across Australia as part of Operation Ironside, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Police deployed an encrypted app known as AN0M into the criminal underworld that collected over 25 million messages from users and led to 300 arrests.

Police arrested Mende Trajkoski, 42, a former employee of Dnata who most recently was a part-time courier driver at the airline.

His co-worker Nikolao Misa, 37, is the company director of the well-known security company Shield Security and was also arrested.

They have both been charged with directing one or more activities of a criminal organisation that was involved in the importation of border controlled drugs.

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The third man charged is Elias Hachem, 47, who states on his social media he worked for Alpha Flight Services, now rebranded as Dnata catering.

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Astro Waetford is the fourth of the six charged and the uncle of pop singer and actor Jai Waetford who shot to fame after a stint on the X Factor in 2013.

There is no suggestion the pop star is connected to the syndicate.

The former Dnata employee was charged with associating with members of a criminal organisation that was involved in the importation of drugs, for the purpose of supporting serious organised criminal activity.

Officers also arrested Ali Khanafer, 31, and Frank Meredith, 32, who were charged alongside Hachem with providing material support and resources to aid a criminal organisation involved in the importation of drugs.

Meredith's wife Sibel Ergun was previously charged with handling proceeds of crime after police seized $100,000 in cash from a home in Liverpool in June.

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Ms Ergun is not accused of being involved in the criminal syndicate.

Police will allege the six men were members of the criminal syndicate and planned to 'import an unknown amount of border controlled drugs concealed within a cargo box in the hold of a commercial aircraft on March 7, 2020'.

'The importation did not occur due to reduced flight schedules as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the syndicate undertook significant planning toward this endeavour,' a police statement alleged.

'This included distributing encrypted AMOM devices to each of the six members and canvassing for suitable exchange locations within the airside area of Sydney Airport.'

All six men will front court next month.

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Sydney man charged over drug shipments .
A Sydney man has been charged with importing kilograms of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine through international air cargo shipments.The 34-year-old, from Rose Bay, is alleged to be part of a criminal drug smuggling syndicate and is set to face Parramatta Local Court on Saturday.

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