World news – ‘Warning to wannabe gangsters’: Police charge 25 in gun crime crackdown

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Police are warning « wannabe gangsters » who engage in shootings that the force will come down hard on them following mass arrests across Sydney’s south-west.

Twenty-five people have been charged with a total of 42 offences as part of Operation Clampdown, which was established to investigate shootings in south-west Sydney over the past two months.

Police have charged 25 people and executed searches at 54 properties as part of an operation targeting gun violence in Sydney’s south-west. Credit:NSW Police

One of those arrested was Ayman El-Sankari, 23, who police allege was involved in a shooting murder attempt at Lakemba last month.

That incident – in which police allege four men chased and shot Fairfield man Mark Shammo in the torso and legs – was one of 12 shootings in south-west Sydney across August and September, including five in public places.

Mr El-Sankari was arrested while police executed a search warrant at a Bankstown home last Friday.

He was charged with shooting with intent to murder, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and breach of bail. He appeared at Parramatta Bail Court last Saturday when bail was formally refused. He is due to appear at Bankstown Local Court on November 10.

Two men were arrested in relation to a separate shooting on Stella Street, Fairfield Heights, on September 3, after a home was sprayed with bullets in a targeted attack.

The men, aged 28 and 22, were arrested at a home on the same street about 6.40am last Thursday. The arrests were made after detectives allegedly discovered a ballistic vest and prohibited weapons – including a gel blaster pistol, a replica pistol and a knife – during a search of the property.

The older man was charged with two counts of possessing an unregistered firearm pistol and the younger man was charged with possessing a prohibited weapon without a permit.

Police have executed searches at 54 properties since the operation began on September 3. Seven vehicles have also been searched.

Officers allegedly seized 13 firearms, including seven pistols and a homemade firearm, as well as prohibited drugs, cash, an electronic stun device, knives, knuckledusters, ammunition, a ballistic vest, 380 false credit cards and 101 mobile phones.

South West Metropolitan Region Command acting Assistant Commissioner Peter McKenna said a number of arrests to date had been of people involved in the shootings.

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott says he has no hesitation in asking Treasury for greater resources for policing should it be needed. Credit:Kate Geraghty

« Our message to that hoodlum element, to those wannabe gangsters, or even career criminals, who want to commit violence in public places [is] that we will come down on them very swiftly and very firmly because our number one priority is and always has been protecting the members of the community, » he said.

He said several of the shootings had been over interpersonal conflicts, drug-related or organised crime, but there was no ongoing threat to the public.

Police Minister David Elliott said he had no hesitation asking Treasury for greater resources if necessary.

Mr Elliott said the operation sent an unequivocal message to the perpetrators of gun violence that no one was above the law.

« Their reckless actions show a flagrant disregard for community safety and this government will not tolerate this vigilante behaviour, » he said.

« For the past week police have sent a powerful message to any person that continues to flout the law – you can expect to be arrested and you will be put before the courts. »

Investigations under Operation Clampdown are continuing and police have urged anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.

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