How Matthew John Battah and Benjamin Neil Pitt were shot dead by NSW police
They were charged with their role in three drug imports, allegedly importing tons of methamphetamines and MDMA worth hundreds of millions of dollars into Australia in sea containers and by air freight.
They are also accused of selling the proceeds of crime as part of a criminal syndicate that made $ 54 million and funded a lavish lifestyle of cars, jewelry and property.
But, according to a police statement of the facts obtained by the Herald, the investigation involving NSW Police, Australian Federal Police and the NSW Crime Commission revealed alarming links between organized crime and Australian authorities, including the Tax Office and NSW Police.
A union member allegedly attempted to hand over money laundering money worth $ 150,000 to a fundraiser employed as a senior ATO compliance officer outside the tax office headquarters in Sydney as the couple made their way to the elevators that would take them inside. The police arrest arrested them both.
The car the union member drove to the fall was fitted with a portable radio similar to those used by NSW police officers, police said. And with it was an internal NSW Police document listing the radio channels used by NSW Police in the Sydney metro area as well as frequencies used by police undertaking special operations.
Police confirmed that the printout appeared to be a photocopy of an original police document.
The police briefing against Pitt and Battah reveals in great detail the alleged logistics involved in moving tons of illicit drugs from Europe to Australia, including the exploitation of practices that allow moving companies Australia to take containers from ports and cargo from airports before they clear customs, holding the cargo in bond at their own premises awaiting clearance, which criminal organizations can access.
Also detailed is a funding scheme known as hawala that allows money to be laundered without a dollar crossing borders or being disclosed to authorities by balancing the books of account against the books of shady international operators.
The document also reveals the connections between some former friends from Mascot High School who worked in the logistics industry as electricians, scaffolders and traders, and who were said to have been drawn to the potential riches of import and distribution. illegal drugs.
Sparky and Gangster
Police allege the Millstream union was run by Pitt, Sydney businessman Savas Guven and Guven’s cousin Erkan Keskin, the former leader of the Lone Wolf motorcycle gang and a former Turkish soldier known as of “Eric the Wolf”.
Keskin, who has not been charged, left Australia around the same time as Pitt and Battah and never returned.
Battah, according to police, was the keeper of the union’s files, keeping records with code names and movements of money and drugs which police say are key to their case. He was involved in coordinating import and trafficking activities, police said.
Police said the BlackBerry messages and encrypted phone recordings give a clear idea of how the union works, the hierarchy of those involved, the roles they played and the dynamics of imports, drug supply, manufacturing and money laundering.
The upper echelon reportedly communicated through encrypted BlackBerry devices equipped with top-secret software known as Phantom Secure that made them difficult to decipher and allowed them to be wiped out by others remotely if they fell between. bad hands.
Police allege Pitt and Battah, who were directors of an electricity company in western Sydney, operated under the BlackBerry username Sparky and Gangster.
Guven, known as Rock, ran a scaffolding company employing many of his former Mascot classmates, who were trained in the logistics side of drug trafficking, police said.
Guven and Pitt were benefactors of a charity, “Against the Odds”. Pitt is said to have had real estate interests and horse racing with another union member. Guven is said to have organized helicopter flying lessons for the same union member. Police allege that as senior union members, Pitt and Guven organized the importation of border-controlled drugs into Australia for wholesale distribution in the domestic market.
Pitt used encrypted BlackBerry emails to direct Battah daily on large-scale drug imports, drug supply, drug manufacturing, international money laundering and domestic money laundering, according to police.
Police also said they have evidence that Pitt is actively researching large quantities of banned drugs at wholesale prices with the aim of reselling them and from international criminal syndicates who may supply him with drugs to import into Australia.
Battah was in a very reliable and crucial position, including the responsibility of leading others over storage and couriers.
The union used a surprisingly similar methodology for three mailings in 2013 and 2014, according to police.
All three shipments were from Europe, with links to Spain and Germany, and they were all described as “unaccompanied personal effects”, which were meant to be household items (furniture, clothing) delivered to a person. who was moving to Australia or to an Australian. who was returning after living abroad.
Guven allegedly used fake email addresses he set up at places such as a convenience store in Neutral Bay near his residence in Mosman to establish contacts with moving companies in Europe and Sydney.
Police allege that on each occasion an Australian-based international moving company located in Blacktown, Chess Hanley’s Removals, received the imported shipments in Australia. Chess was allowed to hold imported shipments in bond until they were quarantined and cleared.
The union is said to have an associate working within chess, ensuring that containers are accessible, which the police statement mentions as providing a “door” through customs.
The first shipment, 540 kilograms of MDMA, reportedly arrived in Australia from Spain in December 2013 – but it was not stopped by authorities, who instead observed union members as they planned the logistics the movement of the shipment.
A week before the arrival of the first shipment, police allege Pitt and Guven exchanged messages about the contact details of the proposed truck driver.
Then, shortly after 7:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve, a week after the shipment arrived, police said they saw Pitt walk into a property in Erskine Park, walk away with a black gym bag, which he carried. taken home to western Sydney.
He then proceeded to an address in St Clair, where police said they spoke to a man they allege was Erkan Keskin, the Lone Wolf bike, nicknamed ‘the old mate’. During this conversation, two men arrived at the house in a black Jeep Cherokee – one of whom is believed to be Guven.
Later in the week, police allege Pitt and Guven discussed catching up with their families at Guven’s Mosman home on Botanic Avenue.
Authorities would monitor, monitor and infiltrate the union over the next year.
Undercover police infiltrated the network, installing a surveillance device in one of Battah’s cars, and even acted as a fundraiser when Guven allegedly tried to hand over large sums of money on his drops to the fundraisers. hawala.
Between early 2014 and early 2015, police allege the union laundered $ 11.1 million via cash deliveries, including from Guven, to fundraisers working for money laundering unions – the money being returned to the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.
Guven is said to have played a prominent role in the cash handouts, executing them in clandestine meetings in the McDonald’s Cremorne parking lot, in the back of a taxi and prominently on the streets of Sydney’s suburbs in Crows Nest using shopping bags, plastic work buckets and brown cardboard boxes.
But while police monitored suspected money laundering throughout 2014, they were also monitoring preparations for two more shipments – one via a similar shipping container and the other via air freight.
When police intercepted a 2014 shipment in a shipping container and replaced tons of drugs with inert substances, it was the unpacking team, including friends from Guven’s school, who were arrested. .
Police allege Guven was in his St Leonards office directing early morning events, including providing a checklist, before his friends’ phones fell silent after authorities moved in.
As the noose tightened, Pitt and Battah made arrangements to take a vacation and managed to leave the country despite police interest. The investigations continued for five long years.
Then, in June last year, police received reports that Pitt and Battah were planning to leave Dubai and, with the cooperation of local authorities, the two were therefore arrested under a red notice from Interpol. .
Simultaneous raids across Sydney picked up other suspected union members.
Last Wednesday evening, Pitt and Battah returned home and were charged. They risk life imprisonment if found guilty.
The men faced the central local court on Thursday, where they did not request bail and bail was formally denied. The cases return to court in November.
Under surveillance shortly after his co-defendants were arrested in late 2014, Battah was heard on surveillance tape talking to another union member: “Even though I get caught… in case I get caught, I will beat him. They haven’t got me yet, they haven’t got anything.
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