Raptor North to target criminal activity in Northern NSW

Monday, 23 January 2023 10:32:20 AM

The NSW Police Force State Crime Command’s Raptor Squad will now have a permanent base in the state’s Hunter region to target and dismantle organised criminal groups.

In response to operational needs and intelligence surrounding organised crime, the State Crime Command’s Raptor Squad has officially launched ‘Raptor North’, with officers commencing duties from today (Monday 23 January 2023).

Raptor North will comprise of 29 experienced staff – led by an Inspector with local knowledge – with assistance from investigators, Operations Support Group (OSG) operatives, and Traffic and Highway Patrol officers.

The squad will be based in the Hunter region, with capability to deploy throughout all of Northern NSW, targeting criminal networks on the Central Coast, the Mid North Coast and Coffs Harbour, and towards the NSW-QLD border.

The Raptor Squads will work closely with the Sydney-based unit, along with additional resources, including the National Anti-Gang Squad (NAGS), NSW Crime Commission, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, and other government partner agencies.

Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Police Paul Toole said the Hunter-based Raptor North will continue to expand the proactive and disruptive tactics employed by the Sydney-based Raptor Squad.

“The Raptor name has become synonymous with dismantling organised crime in this state. Crime knows no boundaries, and as our regional communities to grow, it is critical resources are directed to where they need to go to disrupt these networks,” Mr Toole said.

“Since July, we’ve boosted total Raptor Squad numbers by 30, with police now able to mobilise a Raptor North team of 29 and Raptor South squad of 25.

“These squads are sending a clear message to organised crime networks thinking they can slip under the radar or spread their tentacles in the region: Raptor is watching and the only part of the regions they’ll see is the inside of one of our prisons.”

Northern Region Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Scott Tanner, said while local police are regularly assisted by the Sydney-based Raptor Squad, the commencement of a permanent team is a major win for Northern NSW.

“The announcement of an additional hub for the Raptor Squad in the state’s north serves as a warning to criminal networks intent on causing harm to our community,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Tanner said.

“Most recently, Raptor Squad officers have worked closely with our local police to proactively target conflicting OMCGs involved in public-place shootings, arson attacks, and violent, public-place assaults.

“Even just last week, the Coffs Harbour and Northern Rivers Region Enforcement Squad’s (RES) and local police district officers teamed up with the Raptor Squad to investigate the cultivation and supply of illicit drugs in Northern NSW.

“10 firearms seized as officers conducted three search warrants, locating alleged stolen property including a motorbike, a caravan and a tractor. Four people were charged and remain before the courts; it’s joint operations such as these which will only ramp up with the addition of Raptor North.

“Our message is clear – if you choose to engage in criminal activity in our regions, then expect the attention from our police. Just because you’re out of Sydney, doesn’t mean you’re out of our sights,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Tanner said.

Raptor Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Andrew Koutsoufis, said the announcement of Raptor North and South puts all criminal groups in NSW on notice.

“NSW Police Force is continuing to strengthen its capabilities and is putting resources on the ground in regional NSW to proactively target those committing criminal offences,” Det Supt Koutsoufis said.

“From the beginning, the goal of the Raptor Squad has been to disrupt and disable the activities of criminal networks, including OMCG, and remove the appeal of being in a gang – and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

“The tactics and strategies we have employed within the Sydney basin have proven highly effective in reducing the attraction of joining an outlaw motorcycle gang, with more than 7000 arrests and 16,000 charges since 2009, tens of millions in cash and drugs seized and destroyed.

“We will continue to pivot our operations to put the safety of the people of NSW first, organised criminal activity is not welcome in our state,” Det Supt Koutsoufis said.

Strike Force Raptor was established in 2009, before becoming the stand-alone Raptor Squad in 2021. The command conducts proactive investigations and intelligence-based, high-impact policing operations to prevent and disrupt conflicts, and dismantle any network engaged in serious organised criminal activity.

Information provided to investigators will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

Anyone with information that may assist Raptor North investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.