Three men charged after guns, explosives, $1 million seized in Vic

Three men have been charged after police found a number of firearms, explosive devices, and $1 million in illicit cash in various properties across Victoria.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the landmark agreement for the firearms registry represents a “big step forward’ in gun reforms.

Mr Albanese says the national firearms registry will make sure police officers have “vital information” they need in “potentially dangerous situations.”

“It’ll be a central register developed and managed by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission,” Mr Albanese said.

“To provide information and connect with the national criminal intelligence system to integrate firearms information with other respected.

“The system will be operational by 2028 – it will save lives.”

The three Melbourne men, including an alleged Russian organised crime member, were arrested on Wednesday and faced the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. 

They were charged with firearms and proceeds of crime offenses as part of the ongoing Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOTCF) investigation. 

“The JOCTF responded to an alert from Australian Border Force (ABF) following the detection of a counterfeit Dutch passport in the international mail stream,” Victoria Police said in a statement on Saturday.

Three men were charged after police found a number of firearms, explosive devices, and $1 million in illicit cash during search warrants executed across Melbourne. Picture: Australian Federal Police/Victoria Police

“ABF officers found the fake passport in a package addressed to a business in Burwood, sent via air cargo.

“Police conducted a controlled delivery of the package to the Burwood address on 5 January, where an individual working for the business allegedly accepted the package.

“On the same day, a 46-year-old North Fitzroy man attended the business and departed with the package. He then allegedly delivered it to the alleged Russian organised crime member.”

Police allegedly identified the 49-year-old man in the passport photo and believe the man was planning to use the document to leave Australia.

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The 49-year-old was arrested in Port Melbourne on Wednesday, where he was allegedly found to have a mobile handset which was in contravention of his bail conditions. 

Police alleged they also found an envelope containing cash and a camera with images of various firearms and a grenade. 

“Police then executed a search warrant at the man’s Albert Park home where they found and seized gold bullion coins, five USBs, multiple mobile phones and about $400,000 in Australian and US currency,” Victoria Police said.

Police also attended a property in Tyabb and excavated soil from the area, seizing storage cases containing explosive devices, assorted firearms, ammunition and a substance police suspect to be drugs.

Australian Federal Police Association President Alex Caruana says the introduction of a national firearms register, three decades on from the Port Arthur massacre, is a ‘’really big move” by the government.

“This is a really big move to keep policing, and the Australian community safe,” Mr Caruana told Sky News Australia.

“What it does is it creates a data base that allows real time information for police officers that are going to attend jobs, and it may help to reduce some atrocities that have happened previously.”

The $250 million national register comes three decades on from the Port Arthur massacre which claimed the lives of 35 people.

The Prime Minister has offered to bail out the states and territories and cover a substantial proportion of the costs, making the eight registers compatible with the new national data base.

Detectives and the Victoria Police bomb squad attended the property and assessed the explosives for safe disposal.

Police also attended a property in Humevale and found more firearms and ammunition after excavating the area.

The 46-year-old was arrested in his North Fitzroy home, where police seized three firearms, a small amount of cocaine and methamphetamine, and three mobile phone during a search. 

The third man, a 64-year-old, was arrested in Melbourne’s CBD. Police seized about $600,000 cash after a search warrant was executed in the man’s home in Brighton.

A new $250 million national firearms registry will be implemented in a deal between the federal and state governments.

It follows an agreement from the federal government to cover a proportion of the costs associated with making the eight state registers compatible with a new national database.

The “uplift cost” will be split 50-50 by the federal government with Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, and 75-25 with Tasmania, South Australia, the ACT and the Northern Territory.

It’s unknown which category Victoria will fall into.

The reform was first agreed to after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

Another property was searched in Albert Park, where police seized a laptop, three phones, and a small amount of white powder suspected to be illicit drugs. 

More than 40 guns were allegedly found during the investigation. 

The 49-year-old man was charged with 10 charges including unlawfully possessing firearms, breaching bail condition, and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

The 46-year-old North Fitzroy man was charged with five charges including drug and firearm possession. 

The 64-year-old was charged with possessing unregistered firearms and proceeds of crime offences.

The 49-year-old and 46-year-old men were remanded in custody and did not seek bail. 

The 64-year-old man was granted bail by the court. 

The investigation is ongoing, and police say further arrests have not been ruled out.

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