Australian crime agencies suspect that Qantas Airways has been infiltrated by organized crime groups that aim to facilitate drug import and other illegal activities.
Australian authorities conducted a federal law enforcement operation Project Brunello which found out that 150 Qantas employees reportedly have criminal ties and pose a “very high threat to the Australian border,” Australian media the Age reported on June 6, 2021. The operation was carried out under suspicion that some Qantas staff members could have ties with a Comanchero motorcycle gang affiliate linked to an international drug cartel.
One of the alleged Qantas staff members reportedly has close ties with the gang and simultaneously works in a mid-level managerial position at the airline’s hub at Sydney Airport (SYD) where they allegedly have recruited criminals into the company to involve them in drug import. The Australian agencies also found that some Qantas employees were allegedly creating “vulnerabilities in the security of supply chains and critical infrastructure”, posing threats of harming public confidence in both Qantas and the Australian border security.
Reacting to the report of the federal law operation, Australian politicians called for an urgent review of the country airports’ security. Speaking to the media, Federal Labor opposition politician Catherine King raised concerns that organized crime groups have not only adapted to the COVID-19 environment but even thrived.
The operation reportedly concluded that up to 60 Qantas employees were linked to “serious drug offenses” or “organized crime groups,” while 23 have “used employment in the aviation environment to facilitate various criminal activities.” Besides, seven employees have been suspected of child exploitation, including possessing and manufacturing child pornography.
Qantas unaware of employees’ crime links investigation
Meanwhile, the Security Chief of Qantas Luke Bramah said the airline was not advised of any investigations of the company’s employees involved in organized crime activities. However, Bramah outlined that it had reached out to the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission for more details of the operation report.
Bramah also said that Qantas is the only commercial airline in Australia that holds a Trusted Trader accreditation with the Australian Border Force, which means that all the air carrier‘s staff who are involved in international air freight operations must pass a „fit and proper“ test.
“We’ve not been advised by Border Force of any of our employees failing this test,” Bramah said outlining that if concerns regarding any of its staff members are raised, the airline will “actively support” the investigation as well as “take appropriate action”.