Imported guns linked to gang warfare and border corruption

GUNS used in Sydney's gang war may have been imported through Sydney's International Airport where a massive corruption investigation into the actions of customs officials is under way.

Police are investigating claims firearms were trafficked across the border with the help of customs and quarantine officials accused of turning a blind eye to drug smuggling.

A Fairfax investigation revealed some of the pistols were suspected to have been smuggled in shipping containers which border protection officers claimed they had x-rayed when they had not.

Eight people have now been charged over the customs scandal and more arrests are expected.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has since called for the whistleblower convicted of leaking information about security flaws at Sydney Airport in 2005 to be pardoned.

Allan Kessing forwarded confidential reports to his local MP, current Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and the information ended up in the media.

Mr Xenophon told reporters on Friday Mr Kessing had been vindicated by the Federal Police investigation into corruption at the airport.

Details of the leak have been handed to new Customs Reform Board chief James Wood, the QC who headed the royal commission into corruption in the NSW Police Force.


Govt vows to swiftly deal with border protection problems

GOVERNMENT reforms not seen since the days of the NSW police royal commission will be brought in to stamp out widespread corruption in Australia's border protection agency, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare vowed on Thursday.

Eight people have now been charged and more arrests are expected over security breaches at Sydney's International Airport where customs and quarantine officials allegedly helped organised criminals import drugs, including cocaine, into the country.

Customs officer Paul Lamella, 28, is accused of allowing two importations of 10kgs of ice in the past two years to pass through Sydney Airport.

Two Sydney, aged 22 and 27, are accused of being drug mules. Another woman was arrested in Adelaide.

Four others, including a quarantine officer, were arrested between August and October for their alleged roles in the ring which has been under investigation for the past two years.

As news of the Australian Federal Police investigation broke on Thursday, Mr Clare launched a Customs Reform Board to oversee major reforms.

The board will be headed by James Wood QC, who led the royal commission into corruption in the NSW Police Force.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney this morning Mr Clare said while the "vast majority" of Australia's law enforcement officials were honest, the government and public could not be naive about the position custom officials were placed in.

"Because of the sort of work they do, the powers they have and the information they receive, they can be targeted by organised criminals," Mr Clare said

"There is no place for corruption in our law enforcement agencies. Where it exists we have to weed it out. That is what this operation is all about."

Topics:  australian government border protection corruption crime customs drugs jason clare nsw police force quarantine

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