Baby-faced ex-bikie ‘head of crime network’

A SUPER-SECRET police task force has dismantled one of Sydney's biggest alleged crime syndicates resulting in a catalogue of charges including murder, gun-running, ­kidnapping, extortion, drug supply and multimillion-­dollar fraud across the city.

The mammoth investigation has resulted in 70 arrests and 650 charges after police inquiries into three separate hits exposed the existence of a vast network described by police as "diverse, sophis­ticated and capable".

For the first time The Saturday Telegraph can reveal the alleged syndicate head is a 29-year-old baby-faced accountant and former Rebels bikie, Abuzar "Abs" Sultani, who appeared in Parramatta District Court on Thursday charged with directing a criminal network.

 

Sultani’s first murder trial, due in November, could be delayed as a result of fresh charges.
Sultani’s first murder trial, due in November, could be delayed as a result of fresh charges.

Sultani, who is being held in Goulburn's Supermax jail, has previously been charged with killing Sydney mafia figure Pasquale Barbaro and conspiracy to kill Rebel bikie Ricky Ciano.

During Thursday's hearing prosecutor Craig Everson told the court two additional murder charges had been laid against Sultani over the deaths of Rebels enforcer Michael Davey and Comanchero associate Mehmet Yilmaz.

Mr Everson said he was handing the court a brief of 17 names linked to the criminal network and said Sultani's first murder trial, due in November, could be delayed as a result of the fresh charges.

Abuzar Sultani was arrested at an Olympic Park unit block in November 2016 in relation to the murder of Pasquale Barbaro.
Abuzar Sultani was arrested at an Olympic Park unit block in November 2016 in relation to the murder of Pasquale Barbaro.

Judge James Bennett adjourned the matter until November 29 to decide how the trials will go ahead, including those of Sultani's co-accused.

The charges were laid by Strike Force Ayle, which for the past three years has been known only to a handful of senior officers, operating out of an isolated room at headquarters away from other ­detectives.

Arrested: Ergul Cakmakkaya.
Arrested: Ergul Cakmakkaya.
Arrested: Siar Munshizada.
Arrested: Siar Munshizada.

What began as an inquiry into the violent Burwood chapter of the Rebels bikies in November 2015 by Strike Force Raptor expanded into the formation of the covert group including officers from the Homicide Squad and Drug and Firearms squads.

In the past three years, undercover police and surveillance specialists have gathered 15,000 hours of covert recordings and 100,000 hours of digital and electronic material such as CCTV footage.

 

Strike Force Ingot officers found this handgun in February during a raid.
Strike Force Ingot officers found this handgun in February during a raid.

Among those charged by Ayle is former Lone Wolf bikie boss Erkan "Eric the Wolf" Keskin for the assault and kidnap of Mehmet Yilmaz weeks before his alleged murder. (There is no suggestion that Keskin was involved in Yilmaz's subsequent death.)

Apart from murder and assaults, the network's alleged criminal activities ranged from major drugs and firearms offences to defrauding banks and insurance companies.

Police allege the network provided anything from false identities and forged documents presented as references for sentence submission to "safe houses" for crims on the run or to store guns.

Ammunition was found in the Strike Force Ingot raid on February 7.
Ammunition was found in the Strike Force Ingot raid on February 7.

A number of businesses and professionals have been allegedly caught up in the investigation - including an IT expert, a real estate agent, a firearms dealer and a restaurant manager who are facing various charges.

Charged: Jared Prakash.
Charged: Jared Prakash.
Charged: Joshua Baines.
Charged: Joshua Baines.

The strike force was staffed with hand-picked intelligence analysts and drew specialist officers from all of the force's crime commands, including fraud, sex crimes, drug and gun squads.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, of NSW Crime Command, said that specialist expertise was applied in breaking down the network's business model into small parts before reconnecting with the broader investigation.

Strike Force Ayle, assisted by ballistic experts from the forensic Evidence and Technical Services Command, executed a warrant at a property at Seaham on February 7.
Strike Force Ayle, assisted by ballistic experts from the forensic Evidence and Technical Services Command, executed a warrant at a property at Seaham on February 7.

"It's led to the disruption of activity, disabling the group's control over others and ultimately dismantling the network," Mr Smith said.

"While some of these investigations have generated media attention, the core work was being conducted covertly through intelligence and threat assessments, human source deployment, undercover operatives, electronic surveillance, and forensic and electronic evidence collection.

"(The alleged syndicate) had integrated with other groups to further its own agenda and profiteering. Our investigations are very much ongoing and we anticipate more arrests and charges."



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