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Border force officers nabbed in NSW raids

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August 10, 2017

AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan has revealed details of a drug and tobacco importation plot.

A NSW Police employee allegedly linked to a Sydney crime family at the heart of a multi-million dollar international smuggling syndicate has been arrested and sacked.

Johayna Merhi, 41,who worked for the Customs and Border Protection Service for more than 10 years before becoming a civilian police employee attached to a specialist command, was arrested on Tuesday amid allegations she was part of an international drug and tobacco ring operating between Sydney and Dubai.

Merhi was sacked on Wednesday with NSW Police stating the offences were committed when in her "previous role".

She was one of nine people arrested earlier this week including serving Australian Border Force officer Craig Eakin, 42.

Both were apprehended in Sydney on Tuesday.

Six others were also taken into custody in Sydney including two brothers from the alleged underworld Jomaa family.

A third Jomaa brother, said to the head of the syndicate and named in media reports as Koder Jomaa, 47, was arrested in Dubai.

AFP officials on Thursday confirmed Merhi had for some time mixed with the Arncliffe-based group.

Details of the alleged conspiracy to illegally import drugs and tobacco into Australia was revealed by AFP assistant commissioner Neil Gaughan.

"Her time and her association with the Jomaa family is well-known. It's been long-established. She's been with that group for a period of time," he told reporters on Thursday.

Merhi, from Hurstville, has been charged with smuggling tobacco products, bribing a commonwealth public official and committing an offence for the benefit of an organisation.

Eakin, from Brighton-Le-Sands, faces similar charges.

The ABF team leader, who joined the border protection service about 1998, was suspended without pay following his arrest.

The arrests are part of Operation Astatine which began in early 2016 focusing on a NSW-based criminal network preparing to bring border-controlled drugs into Australia.

"We'll be alleging these persons utilised their knowledge and expertise to assist the Jomaa organised crime family bring border-controlled drugs into Australia," Mr Gaughan said on Thursday.

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