THE elite strike force that has put a dent in organised crime across the Hunter and NSW will be re-organised and receive an “expansion of resources”, police have confirmed.
Strike Force Raptor, which had a chapter established in the Hunter in 2018 as tensions simmered between the Finks and Nomads outlaw motorcycle gangs, will become its own entity within the law enforcement hierarchy.
The unit has previously been part of the Criminal Groups Squad, but that will change from Monday.
Strike Force Raptor launched in March 2009 and has tackled bikies, crime families and other gangs.
NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller said its track record was exemplary.
“The relentless, high-impact and in-your-face policing strategies have seen the arrest of 6290 people and more than 15,800 charges laid, along with the seizure of more than 2000 firearms and $15 million cash,” Mr Fuller said. .
“The squad will eventually be made up of 115 staff, including 30 new police positions – ten of which start Monday – with the remaining 20 to be created on 1 July.
Detective Superintendent Jason Weinstein will lead the new-look Raptor Squad.
“Under this new and significantly expanded model, the Raptor Squad will continue to use our full arsenal of capabilities and take every opportunity to bring criminal gangs to justice,” Mr Fuller said.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the resourcing changes would mean criminal groups would be under the gun from law enforcement.
“Anyone who thinks they can participate in organised crime in this state will now be treated as what they are, urban terrorists and therefore we will be looking at expanding the response to extend beyond our borders and strangle their every move inside and outside the state,” Mr Elliott said.
“We have seen first-hand the recklessness of people who think it is okay to shoot into other people’s homes, cars or businesses, these incidents show a blatant disregard for community safety. Criminals who think they can flout the law should consider themselves put on notice – the Raptor Squad is watching.”
In 2018 police created Raptor North as a Hunter-based branch and Raptor South to cover the Illawarra.
Each region initially had a team of 23 investigators, highway patrol officers and intelligence staff to take on organised crime in their patch.
They also collaborated with organisations including the Australian Taxation Office, Austrac, NSW Crime Commission and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
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