A new task force has been launched by New South Wales police in an effort to coordinate investigations and responses to recent fatal shootings across the state.
NSW police said on Monday, that investigations will strategically target those involved in recent fatal shootings and associated criminal activities of organized criminal networks.
Taskforce Erebus, which will be led by State Crime Command (SCC) under the National Organised Crime Response Plan, will bring together dozens of investigations into other acts of violence, the importation, and supply of prohibited drugs, illicit firearm supply, coordinated theft of vehicles and various other criminal activities.
State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mick Fitzgerald said the task force will draw on specialist technical skills and investigative expertise from across the organisation. Mr Fitzgerald said,
“Taskforce Erebus builds on the information and leads already gathered by investigators and ensures they have the resources to keep targeting and putting pressure on these criminal groups on all fronts.”
“It will involve coordination of the inquiries of detectives and intelligence analysts with expertise across various disciplines including homicide, organised crime, financial and cybercrimes, and criminal groups, networks and their associates,” he added.
New South Wales police have reported that since October 2021, collaborative efforts of SCC and South West Metropolitan Region have led to the arrest of more than 260 people with more than 840 charges laid. Further investigations have led to the seizure of around 70 firearms and 3000 rounds of ammunition, $2.5 million in cash, and prohibited drugs with a combined estimated street value of over $4 million.
Assistant Commissioner Fitzgerald said police will ‘not back down’ and continue to target those with a blatant disregard for community safety.
“These public acts of violence are dangerous and while they are targeted – regardless of who the victim is – it will not be tolerated. It only takes one stray bullet to injure or kill an innocent person,” he said.
State Crime Command (SCC) Director of Crime Operations, Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennet confirmed the Taskforce would focus on the links between organised criminal networks. Mr Bennet said,
“We know the victims in these crimes associated in similar circles and this task force allows for centralized examination of how those connections relate to the shootings, and possible motivations.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Bennet called for community support and information, to help overcome the challenges in gathering evidence which would bring criminals to justice. Chief Superintendent Bennet said,
“When it comes to organised crime, investigators are up against a wall of silence – those connected to the victims, whether by blood, marriage, or as an associate – are often unwilling to assist police, due to either misguided loyalties or fear of retribution.”
Investigations by Taskforce Erebus are already underway, with several covert operations having already produced successful results. Detective Chief Superintendent Bennet has said he can ‘assure’ the public that New South Wales Police are “not resting on their laurels.”
“Police have been in the face of [Organised crime networks] OCN members and associates for quite some time, and we have a full arsenal of capabilities at our disposal to make their lives more uncomfortable,” he said.
New South Wales Police are appealing for anyone with information that can assist Taskforce Erebus to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 and say that any information given by the public will be treated as confidential.