Monday, 26 October 2020
Media release

Joint agency taskforce expands to target crime at the border

​​The Coalition Government is continuing to crack down on organised crime syndicates to protect vulnerable Australians from the scourge of illicit drugs being trafficked through supply chain vulnerabilities.

Operation Centinel, a joint agency taskforce led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Border Force (ABF) was established in early 2020 to further harden the nation’s sea and aviation supply chains to combat these organised criminal operations.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Centinel will now build on its existing capabilities by expanding the taskforce to include the skills and expertise of representatives from the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

“The additional powers, skills and knowledge brought by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and AUSTRAC will ensure the taskforce is using the full breadth of agencies under the Home Affairs portfolio to bust these criminal networks and prosecute those who seek to harm Australians,” Mr Dutton said.

“These criminal networks are targeting some of our most vulnerable, including children; so we are resolute in our efforts to stamp out this crime type and this taskforce is sending a very clear message that criminal enterprises are not welcome here in Australia.”

“By now making this a Portfolio-wide effort, we can expand our operations even further to make sure we can identify, target and disrupt these supply chains offshore and at the border,” Mr Dutton said.

The expanded Taskforce will deploy a variety of disruption tactics, including investigations and prosecution, enhanced compliance activity, legislative and policy reform, offshore disruption, and industry engagement to address criminality and regulatory issues.

With a presence in every state, the Taskforce has access to the full force of Commonwealth powers and has sworn in a number of ABF officers as AFP Special Members. ABF officers appointed as AFP Special Members will be able to exercise AFP powers for the purpose of obtaining evidence under the Crimes Act 1914, including search warrants to investigate migration, visa, trade, citizenship and customs offences. This initiative will contribute to the Portfolio’s endeavour to deepen collaboration and further build interagency partnerships.

Collaboration will continue with State and Territory Police though existing joint arrangements.