Participation in Criminal Groups Offences in NSW

Poppy Morandin.

 

A husband and wife from Cherrybrook have been charged with allegedly running a gun and drug syndicate.

77-year-old, David Shen is accused of directing the group that allegedly had 14 guns, some military grade, in its possession.

He was charged with 18 firearm and drug related charges including unlawfully selling firearms, taking part in the manufacture of prohibited drug greater than commercial quantity, and knowingly direct a criminal group.

Police also allege the man’s wife 41-year-old Lien Ngoc, played a significant role in the criminal syndicate.

The woman was charged with 45 firearm related offences including unlawfully selling firearms and participating in a criminal group and contribute to criminal activity.

The pair were arrested at their Cherrybrook home at 6am and were subsequently taken to Ryde police station.

The pair, and the associated ‘criminal syndicate’, have been linked to a clandestine laboratory that was located by police on Thursday 30 April 2020 in a Camperdown Airbnb.

Officers dismantled the lab and seized 1.9 kilograms of crystal methylamphetamine or ‘ice’ with an estimated potential street value of $1.9 million.

Following investigations, the lab was subsequently tied to the syndicate during an investigation launched by the NSW Police drug and firearms squad into gun supply activities allegedly carried out by the same group.

The husband and wife were among three people arrested, following investigations made by Strike Force Digil into the supply of illegal firearms across Sydney.

In May 2020, Strike Force Digil was established by the State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearms Squad to investigate a criminal syndicate selling illegal firearms across Sydney.

On the same day, both Shen and Ngoc were arrested, 43-year-old Tel Langi, was arrested in Guildford West at the same time for his alleged role in the syndicate.

Mr Langi was also charged with 45 firearm related offences including unlawfully sell firearms, and supply pistol.

Police have explained that whilst some of the weapons seized were antiques, others were more modern, and all were in working order.

Police seized 14 guns as a result of the investigation with a total value of $200,000.

Detectives have stated that “inquiries are ongoing” with regard to the group.

Participation in Criminal Groups Offences in NSW

Pursuant to section 93S of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), a ‘criminal group’ means a group of 3 or more people who have the following, or one of the following, as a common objective:

  • obtaining material benefits from conduct that constitutes a serious indictable offence, or if engaged outside South Wales (including outside Australia) that, if it occurred in New South Wales, would constitute a serious indictable offence, or
  • committing serious violence offences, or if engaged outside South Wales (including outside Australia) that, if it occurred in New South Wales, or if engaged outside South Wales (including outside Australia) that, if it occurred in New South Wales would constitute a serious violence offence.

A serious indictable offences means an indictable offence that is punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of 5 years or more.

A serious violence offence means an offence punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of 10 years or more, where the conduct constituting the offence involves:

  • loss of a person’s life or serious risk of loss of a person’s life,
  • serious injury to a person or serious risk of serious injury to a person,
  • serious damage to property in circumstances endangering the safety of any person, or
  • perverting the course of justice in relation to any conduct that, if proved, would constitute a serious violence offence.

A group may nevertheless be considered criminal whether or not any of them are subordinates or employees of others, only some of the people involved in the group are involved in planning, organising, or carrying out any particular activity, or its membership changes from time to time.

Pursuant to section 93T(1), a person who knows or ought reasonably to know that the group is a criminal group, and knows, or ought reasonably to know, that their participation in that group contributes to the occurrence of any criminal activity, faces a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

Furthermore, a person who participates in a criminal group by directing any of the activities of the group is guilty of an offence, punishable with a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.

The prosecution must prove that the person knows that it is a criminal group, and knows, or is reckless as to whether, that participation contributes to the occurrence of any criminal activity, as outlined in section 93T(1A).

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