Organised crime figures, including Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members, were among those targeted in a recent police operation focused on preventing the transportation of weapons and drugs on key Melbourne roads.
Operation Hornets, which ran between Friday 17 and Sunday 19 February, involved police swarming major arterials and main roads across Broadmeadows, Craigieburn, Campbellfield, Fawkner, and Tullamarine.
As part of the operation, police scanned over 18,850 vehicles using Automatic Numberplate Recognition Technology, disrupting and intercepting those with known links to organised crime, subject to Firearm Prohibition Orders, or with a history of dangerous driving.
During the course of the operation:
• 23 people were arrested
• 18,854 vehicles scanned through ANPR, with a total of 78 vehicles subsequently identified by police.
• 15 people affiliated with organised crime were checked by police, providing police with greater intelligence holdings
• Seven Firearm Prohibition Order searches were conducted
• Four cars were impounded
Detectives from the North West Metro Regional Crime Squad were supported by the VIPER Taskforce, Achilles Taskforce, Air Wing and the Dog Squad as part of the operation.
Key incidents from the operation include:
• Police pulled over a black Holden sedan on Friday evening which registered in the ANPR system as having links to organised crime groups. During a search of the vehicle, police allegedly located a quantity of what is believed to be cocaine. The car was impounded by police and the driver, a 20-year-old Bundoora man, was charged with possession of drugs. He was bailed to appear at court at a later date.
• Police attempted to intercept a motorcycle before it evaded police in Roxburgh Park after it was observed without registration plates. The AirWing tracked the motorcycle to Chesterville Court in Roxburgh Park where the rider was arrested at about 9.30pm. The driver 25-year-old from Anula in the Northern Territory, was charged on summons for driving a motorcycle without registration plates and his motorcycle was impounded.
• Police intercepted a white Audi hire car on Gerbert Street in Broadmeadows at about 10.30pm on Friday evening. The driver is alleged to have links to organised crime groups. Upon making further checks it was discovered that the driver was disqualified. The 25-year-old man from Broadmeadows was subsequently charged with driving while disqualified.
• Police intercepted a black Mercedes Benz at Campbellfield Plaza on Friday evening, after it registered in the ANPR system. The driver, a 21-year-old from Craigieburn, is alleged to have been driving while suspended, and also failing to display P plates, resulting in his car being impounded. He is expected to be charged on summons.
• Police intercepted a driver of a vehicle on Sydney Road in Campbellfield about 12.30am on Sunday morning after it registered in the ANPR system. The driver is alleged to have links to organised crime, and also subject to an FPO. The driver, a 24-year-old Epping man, was subsequently issued with a fine for failing to display P plates, driving a prohibited vehicle and an unroadworthy vehicle.
Operation Hornets will continue with future nights of activity planned.
Anyone with information about criminal activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via .
Quotes attributable to North West Metro Regional Crime Detective Inspector Patrick Watkinson:
“Operation Hornets is designed to proactively target people that are involved in or have an affiliation to organised crime, violence or the transport of weapons and illicit drugs on our roads.”
“We are also focused on ensuring those with Firearm Prohibition Orders are complying with their conditions so dangerous weapons don’t make it to our streets.”
“It was pleasing to not locate any weapons or breaches of Firearm Prohibition Orders, however that does not mean we take our foot off the pedal.”
“We are constantly assessing our methods and creating new strategies to disrupt and detect criminals before offences occur.”
“When offenders are identified, we respond en masse and ensure they are swiftly arrested for any offences, whether it’s carrying illegal weapons or drugs, evading police or speeding.”
Reviewed 24 February 2023