Ruthless Queenpins pushing crime gangs into Aussie ice trade
Ruthless female bosses known as "Aunties" are spearheading Vietnamese crime gangs' rapid expansion from cannabis hydro houses into Sydney's deadly ice trade.
The NSW police drug squad said there are anywhere between 10 to 20 groups operating across the metropolitan area involved in both the marijuana and meth trade - and in some cases they are Asian outfits with feared Queenpins at the top.
"In the past 18 months we have dismantled 16 ice labs linked to Vietnamese organised crime," said acting head of the NSW Drugs and Firearms Squad Detective Superintendent Michael Cook.
"It is not uncommon for females to be in charge of syndicates."
A 27-year-old Bankstown woman arrested in a recent drug squad bust is the alleged ringleader of one multimillion-dollar syndicate. Police claim that her operation included nine grow houses with more than 1500 plants worth about $6 million allegedly uncovered during raids on 13 properties.
"Cannabis is often the seed money used for these syndicates to move into large scale organised crime operations from meth labs to purchasing guns," Supt Cook said.
Supt Cook said such syndicates - once the province of organised gangs with names like the 5T or Golden Circle - were now being run by localised groups.
"They also prey on their own community. They will see people with gambling problems at poker machines in clubs in southwest Sydney and feed them more money until they are deeply in debt," he said.
"Again often the victims are female who are then offered tickets to Vietnam or elsewhere to smuggle either heroin or precursors into Australia to make methamphetamine."
It is a tactic which has been used for years by crime gangs all over Sydney.
Another worrying trend was an increase in the detection of heroin importations.
"It is not anywhere like what we saw in the '90s but it is on the increase. These groups will do anything to make money," he added.
Many of the syndicate members live the high life, especially the young men who drive luxury vehicles like AMW Mercedes, BMWs, wear fancy clothes or Rolex watches and love gambling.
"We know of one male who gambled $6 million dollars away over a two-year period and he wasn't even a boss, just a regular crew member," Supt Cook said.
Others fly under the radar.
Like one of the most ruthless drug cartel bosses ever seen in Sydney - Dung Thi Ngo, 44, who simply appeared to a be a matronly woman from Canley Vale.
She was known as Aunty Dung, lived in an ordinary suburban home, drove a second-hand car but was involved in the manufacture of massive amounts of methamphetamine.
At first police thought she was just a worker for the syndicate but soon realised she was running the operations with a feared enforcer, Kevin Ly at her beck and call. A five-year investigation revealed she most likely ordered the murders of at least four people in Sydney over a two-year period.
The term Aunty is used for female crime bosses by the underlings. Dung was sentenced to 30 years jail in May this year for the 2016 murders of her drug cook and his girlfriend in 2016.
Another crime boss was This Lan Phuong Pham, known as "Aunty P" who was a flashy looking 40-year-old Vietnamese woman whose family owned a string of luxury hotels.
She split her time between the two countries as a cover for her illegal operations. A two-year international investigation by the NSW Organised Crime Squad and the Australia Crime Commission found Aunty P was in fact the head of a money laundering syndicate for Sydney bikies, drug dealers and gun dealers.
She is currently serving four years jail for being the director of a criminal group.