Dozens of Qantas Airways staff could be infiltrated by organised crime, report says
- Criminal groups may have infiltrated Qantas staffers to smuggle drugs, Australian media reported.
- The findings were in an unreleased law-enforcement report. Sources with knowledge of it spoke to the media.
- Qantas called the claims "disturbing" but said it hadn't been contacted by the government.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Qantas Airways, Australia's biggest airline, may have been infiltrated by organised-crime groups for international drug-smuggling operations, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and "60 Minutes" reported on Sunday.
The article was based on official sources who spoke to the outlets about a yet-to-be-released law-enforcement report called "Project Brunello."
Sources briefed on the report, who spoke to the news outlets anonymously, said Project Brunello found that up to 150 Qantas staff were connected to crime organisations.
Insider has contacted Qantas Airways and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission for comment.
Luke Bramah, chief security officer of the Qantas Group, told The Sydney Morning Herald that the company follows all of the "government's vetting procedures" and finds the claims "disturbing."
"We have not been advised of any current investigations of Qantas Group employees involved in organised crime. If concerns are raised regarding any of our employees, we will actively support their investigation and take appropriate action," Bramah said.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Project Brunello's report found that "trusted insiders" at the airline linked to crime groups were able to "cause significant harm" to Australia by facilitating smuggling into the country, and pose "a very high threat to the Australian border."
Here are some of the report's findings, according to The Sydney Morning Herald:
- Almost 60 Qantas staff members were linked to "serious drug offenses" or "organised crime groups."
- Twenty-three had "used employment in the aviation environment to facilitate various criminal activities."
- Five Qantas staff members had links to "national security" criminality involving Islamic extremism, but that there is no immediate risk to the country.
- Seven Qantas staffers were said to have been linked to child exploitation, including one employee who was charged last year with possessing and manufacturing child pornography outside of Australia.
- One of the highest-placed criminal associates in Qantas works as a mid-level managerial position at the airline's Sydney airport operations, and is linked to international drug cartel boss Hakan Ayik. The intelligence showed that this employee recruited criminals to work at the airline to help facilitate drug smuggling.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, which wrote the report, said that nine men from Australian motorcycle gangs and Middle Eastern crime syndicates had teamed up to form a cartel to smuggle drugs into the country.
The man who heads the commission, Michael Phelan, is supporting new laws which would enable the government to use criminal intelligence, as opposed to criminal convictions, to weed out organised-crime associates applying for jobs in airport and maritime roles.
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