Almost half the gangsters and bikies arrested by a dedicated national squad since 2013 come from Queensland, according to figures released by the federal government.
The National Anti-Gang Squad on Thursday marked the milestone of 1000 arrests with officers laying more than 3100 charges and seizing 5600 illegal guns in conjunction with state counterparts.
A breakdown of the arrests to the end of 2016, released by Justice Minister Michael Keenan, shows 466 gangsters were arrested in the Sunshine State.
The next highest number was 128 arrests in Victoria.
Mr Keenan said the squad’s Queensland strike force was the first to be set up.
“Clearly our operations there have been particularly successful,” he told reporters in Sydney.
“But this is a national approach and wherever we’ve rolled it out it’s been successful.”
Victoria accounted for a vast majority of illegal gun seizures – 5136 – after a major operation last year that thwarted an attempt to smuggle thousands of firearms into Australia.
In NSW, federal officers assisted with 56 arrests, laid over 300 charges and seized 20 kilograms of methamphetamine, $130,000 in cash and multiple luxury vehicles.
The head of the NSW police gang squad, Detective Superintendent Deb Wallace, said operations were being extended into regional areas.
An operation on the state’s Central Coast resulted in 22 firearm prohibition orders, while in Wagga Wagga a significant ice distribution network was dismantled, and in Dubbo 18 firearms were confiscated last weekend.
“We will go wherever the outlaw motorcycle gangs are,” Det Supt Wallace said.
Mr Keenan said intelligence still showed there were at least a quarter of a million illegal firearms within Australia’s grey and black markets.
“All of those guns are a significant risk to the Australian population,” he said.
The national squad uses information from the Australian Taxation Office and other government departments.
“Obviously the ATO has access to an extraordinary amount of information, they also have access to powers that police forces don’t have,” Mr Keenan said.
“They’re a very useful part of our investigation.”
Mr Keenan dismissed rumours the squad may face funding cuts and said it had been funded to 2019.
Originally published as Qld tops federal gang squad arrests